Session Three – John Lin



Key theme is the Christian leader as a steward. In ancient times, steward was household manager of large estate. Had authority over estate but only within boundaries of will of the lord of the estate. Much more nuanced and sophisticated idea than just being a teacher or caregiver or counselor.

First model of steward leaders – Adam and Eve – they were given “rule” over all of creation. Gen 1:26,28. They were to cultivate the resources of nature under God’s direction – i.e. Genesis 2:16-17. God gave raw materials and even if God is the one who ultimately causes plants to grow, Adam and Eve were the ones who cultivated the land.

Second model – Joseph. See this role under Potiphar as house-manager – Genesis 39 and then under Pharaoh as Prime Minister of all Egypt – Genesis 41.

Third model – parables of Jesus – Jesus speaks of responsibility of steward as leader and servant – Luke 12:42ff. and Luke 16:1 talk about leader as steward. Other models where speaks about this model without the word “steward” – Matthew 21:33-46; 25:14ff. Commends people as good or wicked servants.

Fourth model – ministry-theology of Paul. His ministry as “stewardship” – 1 Corinthians 9:17. Elder/bishop – overseer – as steward (oikonomos) of God – Titus 1:7. What are we stewards of? A) God’s truth – 1 Cor 4:1 – “ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” and B) spiritual gifts – “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (grace in its various forms)” – 1 Peter 4:10.

Fifth (ultimate model) – Jesus. He is Lord and Servant of the Covenant – Lord who commands us and substitute who takes on yoke of covenant and fulfills it. Ultimate example of servant leader. He owns the land and yet He is also the one who serves and labors to bring fruit.

Steward is household-manager – servant inside a household-family who rules it for profit and benefit of lord of the manor – has authority to organize it, cannot organize it his own way (must be in accord with what the master wants), responsible to lord, primary call is to “cultivate” it – like a gardener, to take seeds and develop them into fruit. Similar to a financial manager.

Heart of biblical leadership is cultivation of resources. Genesis 1 – Adam and Eve given authority. Genesis 2 – tenant-farmers. Tenant farmers live on land, had authority over what happened – were accountable to the owner. Though they may enjoy the land, their goal was to bring profit. Adam and Eve were in Garden to “work it and care for it” (Gen 2:15). Goal not just to guard and maintain (“care for it”) but also to develop, enhance, multiply it (“work it”). Doesn’t merely protect it. Doesn’t use it for his advantage or neglect it. Must wisely cultivate it for sake of the lord of the land. See Matthew 21:33ff – leaders of Israel like tenant farmers of God’s vineyard.

Definition of leader – “one who has power and authority over set of resources”
Definition of leadership – “cultivation and development of resources”

Paradox of stewardship – steward is a ruler and a servant. He is a ruler (authoritative leader in charge), but also a slave who worked for master – worked only for lord and owner of the house (Luke 12:44-45). Sins are either a) not a ruler or b) not a servant. Either way, you fail to cultivate and enrich resources.

Steward-leaders must not be weak. Need to be wiling to be assertive and use authority when needed. Matthew 25:14ff – parable of talents – maser puts three servants over property. One fails to invest – in other words, fails to “assert authority over it and make decisions or take responsibility over it.” Jesus calls him lazy. Should not be too timid to lead – must take faith and steps of faith.

Steward-leaders must not be oppressive. Must not become domineering or exploit resources of house – in other words, there to serve but because they are in authority, should be able to help people develop – that’s the act of service! Cultivation in individuals of their gifts and areas of service. Example in Luke 12:35ff – steward beats servants and begins to “eat and drink and get drunk.” Must not take advantage, but must really serve – this even includes using others to feed ego – make you feel affirmed as a leader.

Steward-leaders in redemptive history. Already and not yet – fact that Jesus has come and begun His work, but has not yet completed His work. On one hand, by virtue of his coming once, we have the Spirit, etc. – we have gifts of the Spirit – we have his Word and a vision for the future, but particularly, we have God’s grace to assist us in work of ministry – we have gifts that are powerful that we have to cultivate. On other hand, we are still servants – leadership gifts are only given by his grace – need to be dependent that God will do great things.

Of course, there are theological vision reasons for stewardship – but common sense also suggests that leaders get better results of they don’t hold the reins of authority too tightly or too loosely. Gospel deepens humility for service and confidence for rule at the same time.

Resources in the church primarily those of the Spirit – 1 Peter 4:10. “Each one should use whatever he has received to serve others, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Gifts of the Spirit – i.e. Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 – show us unique gifts to build same body that needs to work together – like a real body – need parts to function, otherwise no functioning – need a heart to get blood to the arms, need arms to get food to mouth, need stomach to digest food, etc. Steward needs to a) recognize resources and gifts of members (i.e. spiritual gifts or interests/passions) – what the steward has as raw materials and b) make sure resources are being used by putting right people into right positions. Must use resources that Spirit has given to move us towards goals of kingdom – must consider both – vision without use of right resources will lead to frustration – focus on resources and structure without movement won’t help either.

Couple issues here – 1) steward is accountable to the Word of God, which dictates our vision – cannot be discarded – we must preach, baptize, celebrate Lord’s supper – BUT, we can also be flexible with human conventions (i.e. ministry models – FG or not, style of music, etc.) – must be open to changing anything that is not part of God’s Word. 2) Steward knows that he is employed as a matter of grace – that means we have the freedom to fail and therefore can make changes and be bold and daring in rethinking our churches. If never adapt, then you make church culture an idol. If always adapting and compromising, then new culture is an idol, instead of church vision being normative.

Consider Ephesians 4:1-11. Fundamentally about unity. V. 1-3 character of unity in the Spirit in bond of peace. 4-6 talks about one body and one Spirit – unity. V. 7 – we received gifts from Christ as grace – different ones. Note, “But.” V. 11 – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. V. 12 to equip saints for work of ministry – THIS IS KEY – not necessarily to do the work of ministry – their work is to equip. v. 13 – until we attain unity of faith and knowledge of Son of God and maturity. Vv. 15-16 – we grow up into the head, from whom whole body is joined and held together – each part working properly – body grows.

Consider family example. When you have children at some point, there are responsibilities that you teach them – helping with family chores, taking care of the family pet, cleaning their room, helping to clean the home or with cooking – of course, always more efficient and sometimes better for parents to do everything – they can do everything and can do it much better, faster, better results. That said, at some point, over time you let children take on increasing responsibilities – you could do those things yourself, but you let children do it primarily because you want to train them to be meaningful contributors and members of family – everyone works together to build the family, not just the dad or mom does everything – all the work of a family. If in family, parents did everything, children don’t ever grow up – even in adult life are irresponsible and poor contributors to family and society. But what you want to do is train children to participate so that as they grow, will become more meaningful parts of family and society around. Gentle and firm at the same time – this is good stewardship since children belong to God ultimately.

See this spreading of leadership responsibilities and gifting everywhere. Exodus 18:13-27 – Jethro – Moses’ father-in-law. Called everyone to share in ministry, not just for Moses to do all of ministry – but Moses would oversee it. Jesus’ model also the same – that the disciples were commissioned to share the gospel, to do healing and to serve – i.e. feeding of the multitudes – always disciples who did it – part of training for them. Jesus could have made everyone full or could have made bread fall from the sky – instead, sent disciples who were trained, mentored, etc. to go do it. Acts 2 – church met in temple and house to house – house community also a real extension of church life – community that extended throughout people’s personal and private lives. Acts 6 – creation of diaconate – essentially, work of apostles became too great so began to give different roles and responsibilities to others to do the work of ministry. Even the concept of having elders and deacons presupposes that church work requires variety of gifts and the contributions of everyone.

This is critical – not just that the pastor does all the ministry – or that the pastor cares for everyone – the pastor’s responsibility is to ensure that everyone is cared for, not necessarily that he cares for everyone – job is to build a community with resources that are being given and used and contributed, not just that a pastor builds a following of individuals who have direct relationship with him.

Work is to build community (work happens in community). Steward-leader is part of that community. Church as “household” (Gal 2:10) and “family” (Eph 2:19; 3:15). Must build a community where ministry can happen – Eph 4:15-16. Combination of relational and administrative tasks – must organize people. Key passages are “one another” passages. This happens in most meaningful way when we allow others to minister to one another instead of feeling need to minister to everyone ourselves – allow others to do it. Happens in most meaningful way when not a major program, but through deeper relationships – i.e. fellowship groups – where people share their needs, concerns, areas where they need assistance, talk about Scripture together, etc. The key is not to be concerned too much with the model, which can be flexible – the key is the principle and heart of community.

Affirming one another – being friends
•    Affirming strengths, abilities, gifts – Romans 12:10 – Honor (praise accomplishments) one another; James 5:9 – don’t grumble (don’t groan or roll eyes or disrespect) against one another. Romans 12:3-6 confirm gifts of one another
•    Affirming equal importance in Christ – Romans 15:7 Accept (welcome, appreciate, include) one another as Christ accepted you. 1 Cor 12:25 – Be equally anxious for one another (care for one another equally regardless of ability, status, etc.). 1 Peter 5:5 – gird with humility toward one another. James 2:1 – don’t show favoritism
•    Affirming through visible affection – Rom 16:16 – greet one another with holy kiss (visible affection). James 1:19 – listen more than you speak. 1 Thess 3:12 – abound exceedingly in love to one another
Sharing with one another – being family
•    Share needs and problems. Gal 6:2 – bear one another’s burdens (share difficulty and pain of); 1 Thess 5:11 encourage (come along side and strengthen) one another
•    Share space, goods, time. Rom 12:10 – show brotherly love (treat one another as family). 1 Thess 5:15 – do good (meet practical needs) of one another. 1 Pet 4:9 – offer hospitality (open homes, share food and goods to one another)
•    Share beliefs, thinking, spirituality – Rom 12:16 – become of same mind (work to consensus). Col 3:16 – teach Bible to one another. 1 Cor 11:33 – wait for each other to take sacrament together. Eph 5:19 – sing God’s praise to and with one another.
Serving one another – being servants
•    Serve one another through accountability. James 5:16 – confess sins and pray for one another. Rom 15:14 – admonish (confront) one another. Heb 3:13 – exhort each other daily about your sin. Eph 4:25 – tell the truth to one another.
•    Serve one another through forgiveness and reconciliation. Eph 4:2 – be humble, gentle, patient, put up with one another. Eph 4:32 – forgive one another as Christ forgave. Gal 5:26 – do not provoke or envy. Rom 14:19 – don’t condemn one another. James 4:11 – do not slander or attack one another. Matt 5:23ff, 18:15ff – re-establish broken relationships with one another
•    Serve one another’s interests rather than own. Rom 14:9 – edify one another. Heb 10:24 – consider how to stir one another to love and good works. Gal 5:13 – be servants (slaves) of one another. Rom 15:1-2 – don’t please yourself.