A steward leader is defined as a faithful steward who is called to lead. Pretty simple.
We are called first to be faithful stewards in every area of our lives. As we walk that journey and are called to positions of leadership, our steward’s worldview will carry over and impact every aspect of our leadership role. In this blog I want to focus on how we, as steward leaders, manage our people to be balanced in their self-image and certain in their identity.
One aspect of being a faithful steward is the freedom we have in our self-understanding. As stewards of our self-image we fend off the sin of pride on one side and the sin of self-deprecation on the other.
Faithful, godly stewards keep their eyes focused on Jesus and secure their identity solely in his love for them. In the same way steward leaders are intentional about maintaining a godly balance and singular focus in their leadership role. As a result, they experience the freedom that comes from this balance and focus.
From this place of balance and freedom, steward leaders will intentionally seek the same for their people. Steward leaders can be used by God to set their people free to see themselves as God sees them, and love themselves as God loves them.
What impact would it have on your organizational culture, morale and productivity if every member of your organization saw themselves in a balanced way, not thinking any better or worse of themselves than they ought? For most organizations I know, the impact would be immense!
Steward leaders will engender in their people the gift of confidence that comes from their identity as a child of God. The steward leader’s goal for his or her people can be described as an unfolding.
That is, steward leaders seek to help their people unfold the talents and character with which God has gifted them. Think of a flower in the spring or a piece of ornate origami. The more it is unfolded, the more beautiful it becomes. Every small movement unveils another hidden treasure. So it is with our people. As they are freed to see themselves as God sees them, and as they find that sweet spot of balance in their self-awareness they begin to unfold before us. They become more useful to the master, and they respond with joyful obedience.
This is in distinction to owner-leaders who seek to mold their people into shapes and sizes that best serve the organization in achieving its goals. Because the owner-leader is in bondage to an identity that must be propped up and protected at all costs, they must maintain control over their people. That includes the manipulation required to get them to do what the leader wants.
The most savvy owner-leaders will play on the imbalance in people to their own ends, molding them into compliant followers who will do the boss’ bidding without protest. Leaders who are not free themselves will have no other option but to mold people into shapes and roles that will not be a threat to them. They will seek to bring down confident colleagues due to their own envy or fear, and they will keep those with low self-esteem exactly where they are. Owner-leaders are power brokers. This may seem extreme, but the temptation to use our positions to rise above the people we lead is a constant reality for every leader.
This is where our freedom as stewards is most critical to our calling as steward leaders. We treasure this freedom for ourselves and we must, in turn, yearn for that same freedom for those we lead. We must be so free in ourselves that we will lift up everyone who is around us. As steward leaders we will look for the signs and behaviors that belie an unhealthy imbalance in our people. We will lift up those whose self-images are battered and help restore perspective and instill a Christ-centered confidence in those who struggle with self-doubt.
In the same way we must be so passionate about this balance for our people that we will take the risk of challenging the prideful in our ranks. They, too, are in bondage, and setting them free requires we approach them with the heartfelt desire to see them unfold under the influence of the Spirit of God. It means we are willing to absorb criticism to see our people prosper, even if it means making hard decisions for them.
Is your identity as a leader secured solely in Christ?
Have you been set free to lead from a position of certainty and humility?
And if so, are you committed to seeing your employees, your colleagues, your friends and your family become unfolded in the loving hands of God?
Dr. Scott Rodin as been in not-for-profit leadership and consulting for twenty-five years. He has served as counsel to over 100 organizations across the country and in Canada and Great Britain including colleges, seminaries, schools, churches, para-church ministries and other not-for-profit organizations. Visit his blog at Kingdom Life Publishing.