concept

Steward-Leaders

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

his members.



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

Steward-Leader

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

Ascalon’s ministry.  



The

Shepherd Motif

In Scripture,

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”

1 Pet. 5:7

The

Leadership Reality

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!



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