The lessons this quarter are focused on what is commonly known as Stewardship. The word “stewardship” is an old word that has much the same meaning as the word “manager” or “management” today. A steward is a manager, one who does not own the things he or she presides over but, rather, manages them to the benefit of the owner.
It does not take much thought to bring to mind that a good steward, or manager, will need to have a number of characteristics that are well developed. The first characteristic would have to be the realization that what they manage is not theirs. The cardinal error of a manager, one that would get him or her summarily fired (or worse), would be for them to take the prerogatives of an owner, to begin to act as if what they care for or presided over, was their own. The development of an owner-like attitude, would very quickly render a steward useless. They would no longer be able to do their job.
A second characteristic that a good steward would need, would be honesty. Because they would be managing the assets of another, a steward must be honest, able to be counted on not to deceive or be devious, else the owner would be running the risk of not knowing whether things were going well or poorly to say nothing of knowing what their assets looked like. A dishonest steward would also be more likely to steal, to take from the owner what was theirs but to do it in such a way that the owner would not know.
A third characteristic of a good steward would likely be that of faithfulness, being trustworthy in terms of being responsible, and at all times. To borrow an old saying, with a steward, “the buck” has to “stop ‘here.’” The owner must be able to know that the steward is faithfully and reliably taking care of the business entrusted to them.
A final characteristic we will mention – no doubt there are not a few more – is that a steward must have what might be called a “service” attitude. They must understand that they are working as servants, working with an attitude that what they do is a service for the benefit of others. Of course, they derive some payment and some non-tangible rewards, but the basic nature of being a steward is that you are a “servant” of others. Let a steward, or manager, forget that, and the whole process of stewardship breaks down.
The characteristics listed above are but some of the chief ones that need to be present in the life and experience of a good steward. As we progress through this quarter, our thoughts will be focused on, and expanded around, the subject of what it means to be stewards for God.