Bishop Lull: God is Not Exiting
Service of Holy Closure at North Emanuel Lutheran Church, Saint Paul (9.17.17) "God is Not Exiting" Act[...]
It is impossible for a leader in the church to avoid the task of being a sound stewardship leader. While this task does not rest solely with the rostered ministers, they do have the responsibility of being strong stewards by virtue of their consecrations and ordinations.
There is an expectation that public leaders of the church should be models of the types of stewardship that enable and enliven vital ministry. In turn, these public leaders are faced with the monumental task of finding creative, talented, and faithful stewardship partners among the people that they serve. This is true regardless of the ministry context. As these partners are identified and relationships are built, the rostered and lay leaders of the church are invited to teach stewardship as a fundamental practice of discipleship.
Teaching stewardship as a part of discipleship is becoming increasingly difficult as cultural practices around generous stewardship evolve within new generations. Simply put, every generation seems to need a different teaching methodology. Leaders in our church need to be self-aware and self-evaluating regarding their own preparedness and giftedness to be stewardship leaders. We need to ask ourselves if we are willing to continually engage the challenge. We need to ask ourselves if Christ’s call to love our neighbor – particularly the poor, the sick, the naked, and the most vulnerable among us – is worth our best efforts in stewardship. We need to be honest with ourselves.
One of the difficulties in becoming an effective stewardship leader is the breadth of areas in which we must practice sound stewardship. To say that we are stewards means that we are managing something that does not belong to us. On a basic level, God’s stewards are invited to recognize that absolutely everything we have in life is a gift from God. Nothing in our lives comes apart from the life that God gives to us.
The outcome of this recognition is the somewhat overwhelming task of viewing our stewardship leadership as the modeling of faithful management of all of life. We are invited to be faithful stewardship of our gifts and abilities, our relationships, the created world around us, our spiritual lives, and our financial resources. This is what we are getting at when we talk about holistic stewardship. It is a daunting task for any leader to provide this type of witness and to equip others to do the same. What can we do?
I want to offer one possible starting point. In order to be the most effective stewardship leader possible, must we first be the most effective leaders we are capable of being? If we want to utilize our gifts for relationship building, for strengthening communities, for encouraging those we lead, and for increasing our own faithful stewardship, should we not do the much needed work of developing our leadership skills? We can do this in a variety of ways. Self-awareness, attention to one’s own strengths in leadership, improving our emotional intelligence, concentrating on inter-personal skills, and modeling healthy personal stewardship of life, all have the potential to dramatically increase our capacity to be effective leaders.
When we maximize our potential as leaders, we allow ourselves to be most receptive to the work of the Holy Spirit in our contexts and the world around us. Consider the possibility that becoming the best steward of your own leadership abilities is the first step towards becoming a more effective holistic stewardship leader. Consider that the greatest single gift that you have to encourage generous lives of stewardship is the very life that you have been given.
The Rev. Tom Jenkins
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