One of the intriguing developments in the study of leadership theory is the recent emergence of the theory of “steward leadership.” Steward leadership both builds on and encompasses Robert Greenleaf’s theory of Servant Leadership: steward leaders accept the responsibility to empower, reward, and serve others for the long-term sustainability and good of the organization.
It is intriguing to me that steward leadership theory has garnered such attention in non-Christian or “secular” contexts, since it is based on explicit Judeo-Christian values. It will be interesting to see the research that emerges on this theory, and the way it is applied in various leadership contexts.
I am especially interested to see what impact this model has on church ministry. In some ways, steward leadership should be a no-brainer for ministry leaders. Yet when you think about it, embracing a stewardship mindset could radically transform the way we “do” church in our culture. This is more than financial stewardship, which is the way the term has typically been used in the church world. What would the following areas look like if we applied a stewardship approach throughout the church?
- Tithes and offerings
- Decisions regarding the use of those gifts
- Understanding of pastoral authority and leadership
- Management of staff
- Development of lay leadership
- The purpose and practice of “business” meetings
- Corporate worship
- Preaching and teaching
- Programs and events
Again, I think we sometimes talk about the importance of stewardship without really thinking through how to embed that not only as a value, but a leadership paradigm, throughout our organizations.
How would a stewardship approach change the way you do ministry in your context?