I am currently teaching The Steward Leader for Christian Leadership Alliance for a group of international persons. Having taught this course several times to mostly Americans I’m struck with a couple of contrasts.
First, is the order of magnitude of issues being considered. Americans are largely concerned with how to demonstrate a steward’s heart while keeping everything in order and advancing for tomorrow. The international students have largely been concerned with how to hold it together, trusting that the Master will provide for today. Americans want to increase competence and thereby be more commendable to the Owner. International students tend to focus on demonstrating faith and thereby demonstrate more relationship with the Owner.
The second contrast grows from the first. In the most recent assignment participants needed to indicate a time when they became deeply aware that they were a steward of their role, as opposed to someone who owned their position. To date, whenever I’ve taught the course, it resulted in retelling experiences where perspective was transformed. This time, however, from these international voices come not stories but prayers. In learning these prayers as part of their discipleship process, these folks came to understand that they work for the Owner and not their own ambition.
Here are two such prayers:
Dear Lord Jesus, the enemy wants to put chains on me, but you are the Lord of my life.
Help me live today with the freedom and joy of a child of God.
I trust you Lord. Set me free to lead with obedience and joy. You have them on a journey of faith. Use me today to help them on that journey.
Equip me to be a blessing to everyone I encounter, Lord, even those who challenge, frustrate and disappoint me.
This job is yours, these people are yours, these plans are yours, these challenges are yours and our future is yours.
All you ask of me is to be faithful. Help me be faithful, Lord.
I know that you are more concerned with working in me than through me today.
We have a lot of challenges, but before you change our circumstances, change me first, Lord. I want to be more like Christ.
You are our Provider, and we trust you to supply all of our needs.
Keep my heart free from envy, fear, and greed.
Give me your peace, Lord, and help me lead others to trust you as our all-sufficient Provider.
Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast Spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a living Spirit.
This is what I have asked from the Lord as I have read and understood steward leadership.
I pray O God that you may turn my weakness to be my strength and I ask you to strengthen me, remind me, break me and remold me to be a vessel of your best choice.
I pray that I may become a leader of integrity, consistent in values, actions, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes.
I ask you, Lord, that I may be an honest leader even when nobody is watching. Lord, let your body not be under attack within because of me.
My prayer is that I may be complete, honorable and trustworthy.
I pray that 1 Peter 3:16-17 may be fulfilled in my life because everyone expects honesty from the redeemed ones of the Lord.
Help me, Lord, to set a standard, because I’m an ambassador for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21), and I pray that I may be the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14-16 and Ephesians 5:1,2).
My motive must line up with the Spirit of God as we have been taught, and my intention is to do what is right in the sight of God and wanting to adhere to what is true and just.
Apostle Paul said. (Acts 24:16) “I strive always to keep my conscience clear (blameless) before God and before Men.”
I pray, Lord, that my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.
Amen and Amen.
I’m struck by these contrasts and feel they help me claim something profound that has been missing from the conversation. What if we think about steward leadership as competence as well as relationship, or a desire for competence because of the relationship, or perhaps best of all becoming competent in my relationship with the Owner? If so, then being a steward leader is far more critical than doing steward leadership.
Mark L. Vincent Ph.D, CCNL is CEO of Design Group International, an organizational development company he co-founded in 2001 to help organizations and their leaders transform for a vibrant future. He also facilitates CLA Leader2Leader groups in WI and IL.