As a pastor I cannot lead from a distance. I’ve got to be present with the people.” Pastor Andre Ascalon of the First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Newark, New Jersey (USA) shared this
statement with me. It made a real impression. As a pastor he ministers
to two congregations yet he lives two hours away from his churches. Despite the distance, he is always
present with his congregations at least twice a week including prayer meetings. He rarely accepts invitations to preach
and teach outside of his churches because he wants to be close and available to
As a pastor he ministers to two congregations yet he lives two hours away from his churches. Despite the distance, he is always present with his congregations at least twice a week including prayer meetings.
The Newark church
has shown impressive growth in both its membership and financial
resources. As a result of
challenging his members to make their place of worship representative of their
God, church facilities have been improved and upgraded. Pastor Ascalon is also committed to
helping members extend their ministry to the local community. While there may
be many varying factors that contribute to the growth and vibrancy of life in
this church, I’m convinced that the steward-leadership of the pastor plays a
significant role in the growth experience of this congregation.
The Apostle Peter
indicated that when Christian leaders administer and exercise their
responsibilities, they are doing so on behalf of God Himself, the “Chief
Shepherd” (1 Pet. 5:4). The idea
of representing God through the gift of leadership is highlighted further in
Peter’s reference to the biblical concept of “calling” (1 Pet. 5:10). Leaders
are in the business of influencing people to live according to God’s purpose,
which means they are being called to be His agents of positive change in the
world. The leader’s call to guide God’s people is a privilege and an honor but
never a right. I saw this demonstrated in the Christian leadership of Pastor
steward-leadership finds expression in the imagery of the shepherd and the
principles of “shepherding.” In fact, Peter seems to understand these two
ministry concepts of “stewardship” and “shepherding” as one and the same
reality (1 Pet. 5:4). For Peter, Christian leaders (pastors and elders) are
shepherds who, on behalf of God, lead “His flock,” the church. Shepherds lead from the front. They are
“willing” leaders, and they take the initiative to lead and provide direction.
They know God has called them to their assigned leadership role. They are
assertive, they demonstrate a total commitment to the task, and lead by example
(1Pet. 5:2-4). This is steward-leadership.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”
Leadership is not
without its challenges, and Peter understood from his own experience. As a
result, he reminded elders of the importance of humility in Christian service
(1 Pet. 5:5). Humility has to be a ‘constant’ in steward-leadership.
Peter also reminds
Christian leaders of Satan’s desire to destroy them and those they are
leading. But there is good
news. In the midst of these
tests and sufferings, Peter reminds the steward-leader to, “Cast all your
anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). Moreover, God’s grace is
sufficient to restore steward leaders when they fail. God’s grace will make
them strong when they are weak, and it will keep them upright and firm when
they slide (1 Pet. 5:10).
The beginning and end of steward-leadership is
God. Leadership is never a destination but a process where God is continually
working out His purposes in our lives. As steward-leaders we are partners with
Him. We are not alone. God
is with us!