R. Scott Rodin’s, “The Steward Leader”gives us an example of how God wants us to lead and represent him in this world. God calls us to be transformative leaders that honor him in all our decisions in life. This book exudes how a spiritual leader becomes all that God calls him to be through a solid foundation of relationship with Him, others, creation and ourselves.
This book gives a message of obedience and humility to what God has called those in leadership ministry to be. By understanding that whatever we are given in this life and whomever we are blessed enough to lead, it is done by God, for God, and for his glory. The author states, “Steward leaders are willing and active participants in the great work that God is doing in the world” (Rodin, 9). This sets the tone for the rest of the book as its primary source and focus is on what “God” is doing in this world. Rodin gives great illustrations as to what propels a steward leader. One must understand that you have to be submissive to God’s authority and power at work in the life of the leader. This is the only way for a leader to truly be transformative to others and the community through total dependence and reliance on God.
Rodin begins with helping the reader understand that as steward leaders, there is only one reputation that is at stake. That is the one of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Leaders who do not exercise their faith and trust in Jesus tend to not make wise choices that will benefit the kingdom of God, nor their people. Hence, not being “good stewards” over what God has entrusted to them. We can see this in the parable of the talents presented in Matthew’s gospel in Matthew 25:14-30. The servant that was given the one talent was not wise in what was entrusted to him. In fact, his decision not to multiply made him receive harsh punishment. Scripture tells us in verse 29, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away”.
The author then gives the reader what constitutes a steward leader. He makes it clear that as steward leaders, one must be conformed to the image of Christ at all times. Only when this happens, may we gain true freedom to become what God has called us to be. This foundation allows the leader to be set apart from all other leaders who lead by their own merit and understanding. He uses this foundation to set the course for the remainder of this book.
Rodin emphasizes that in order to be a steward leader that brings upon transformation, one has to be a steward in our relationship with God. This is particularly vital when we are leading God’s people. It is important for a leader to demonstrate that their relationship with God is authentic and one that is continually evolving over time. He states, “Our transformation is a journey, and journeys are, by definition, movements. When you sit down, your journey is placed on hold. When you stop growing, your transformation stalls” (Rodin, 96). Steward leaders continually allow the work and power of the Holy Spirit to shape us, mold us and lead us into the image of Christ. Rodin wants the reader to understand that when stagnation is present, then it hinders our personal relationship and leadership abilities.
Rodin then emphasizes for us the importance of our relationship with ourselves. He exhorts the readers to be confidence in whom God made them to be as they are formed in his image, but mostly confidence in whom God is in their lives. There is no room for self-confidence as a steward leader. As a reminder, Rodin states, “The best tool leaders can have always at hand is a full-length mirror. Not for self-admiration but for self-examination” (Rodin, 117). This shows exactly the mindset a steward leader should have. Romans 12:3(NIV) tells us, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” The author then shifts his focus on the next relationship to garner as a steward leader, relationship with our neighbor. He beautifully illustrates how a steward leader because of his relationship with God and himself, they are able to exude the love of Christ to others in their service. Rodin describes this being done in how a steward leader spends their time with others. This time as he explains should not be for self-gain but to genuinely show care and concern for our brothers and sisters. Unlike their secular counterparts who seek self-glorification and accomplishment at times, steward leaders strive to build community. Rodin explains this by letting the reader know and understand to see people as God sees them. This is a process that requires the steward leader to possibly change their vision and accountability. Through this approach, Rodin states, “Steward leaders can be caretakers of their communities only if they are willing to take a careful, objective, critical look at their organizations, seek to understand the reality of their situation and speak the truth with integrity into the community to affect change” (Rodin, 152).
The last relationship Rodin encourages the reader to focus on is that of a steward leaders relationship with creation. This section allows the reader to glean the important areas of life whereby God calls all to be “good stewards”. Rodin explains that all God has created should be nurtured and taken care of wisely. He states, “The gift of nurture is holistic, involving the entirety of God’s good creation. This includes the stewarding of God’s gift of time, God’s investment in us of skills and talents that align with his calling, and God’s provision for us through resources to meet our needs” (Rodin, 157). A steward leaders time, talents, and possessions were all created by God and should be used in the highest regard to the giver. Rodin elaborates that when one tries to control these areas, they can be a sincere burden to the steward leaders and affect the organizations significantly.
This was a refreshing and knowledge filled book to read. At the core, this book lets the potential Christian leader know exactly what to incorporate to effectively lead God’s people. Using the foundations of the relationships one must foster and build upon with God, ourselves, others, and creations make it more applicable to our lives. I thought the author did an outstanding job of laying the cornerstone of steward leadership. Despite ones education, talents, abilities, character or charisma the steward leader should be anointed for the work. “With God’s anointing comes what every leaders seeks: God’s power and presence.” This was a critical point in the book that really brought out how each relationship is developed. Another area the author did a fabulous job was that of establishing an answer for every crutch that can hinder progress in each one of these relationships. I believe that all who are serving in any capacity of leadership or ministry would benefit greatly from this book. I would recommend it to Pastors, Chaplains to possibly go through this book with their leaders in a training development program.
This book serves as a great guideline for a chaplaincy and other ministry settings because it gives four great pillars to build upon. It helps those in these fields to always maintain focus on that what our Lord and Savior Jesus demonstrated in his earthly ministry. This book will help me going forth in ministry as a Pastor with a reminder that it is not about me but the will of the Father (Luke 2:49; 22:42). I can take full confidence in the ability of the Holy Spirit that is working in me to do what God is calling me to do. I know have a better understand of how to demonstrate stewardship in my life so that I can effectively lead God’s people in community. This has also shown me how to be a better steward of all of God’s creation that has been entrusted to each person, but more importantly to those whom he calls.
I will particular utilize a lot from the area of Stewards of Our Relationship with Our Creator God. As I truly understand the intimacy that God wants with me in my life then I believe it will genuinely poor out into the other relationships. This will prevent me from becoming stagnant. This author has taught me that in order to truly be a transformative leader within the body of Christ, I must be obedient to God and what he’s provided. He taught me to really take a look at relationships and myself in each of the four transformations. I can only pray and ask God to help me with my shortcomings. This book has shown me that God cares about our whole being and wants to be apart of every relationship. In doing this, God can reveal himself to others through our obedience and love shared in these relationships. Just by praying in each one of these areas, I believe it will cause transformation in any leader with a heart for doing God’s will.
In conclusion, I would agree with all of the author’s thoughts on “who” a steward leader should be. This book was a powerful rendition of what Jesus Christ demonstrated for us to emulate within ministry. This was a time of personal reflection that helped me reevaluate my relationship with God. I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone.
Dr. Stephone A. Berry is an Associate Minister at Christian Faith Fellowship in Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated with a Master of Divinity in Ministry Studies and earned a Doctorate of Ministerial Leadership from Columbia International University.