What is a Steward? and how to be a good one

The Bible Doctrine of stewardship is an important concept for each Christian to learn.  It is a completely different mindset than how the world-system operates.  Are you a good steward? Find out in this article.

The world operates by the philosophy of ownership.  “It’s mine so I’ll do what I want” is the prevailing attitude.  Stewardship is the opposite.  The philosophy of stewardship says, “I’ve been entrusted with what belongs to someone else and I must give an account of how I handle it.”

You like the idea of stewardship even if you aren’t aware of it.  For example, If you let someone borrow your car, do you want them to drive it like they stole it (ownership)? Or would you rather them drive it like your grandma?  (stewardship)

One who lives by the principles of stewardship is a called a steward.  Let’s learn what a Biblical steward is and how to be a good one.

The word “steward” is an old word and the concept has been around since the Garden of Eden.  

Abraham had a steward.

Genesis 15:1–2   “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?”

Joseph had a steward.

Genesis 43:19 “And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,”

In the New Testament, Herod Antipas had a steward.

Luke 8:3 “And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.”

Definition of a Steward

“One designated by a master to oversee family, household, or state matters. Responsibilities might include the palace (1 Kgs. 16:9; 2 Kgs. 10:5), business affairs (Matt. 20:8), or the city treasury (Rom. 16:23). The steward might also be responsible for the entire household, as with Joseph’s steward. It is with the steward that Joseph’s brothers cast their fears and in turn receive assurance (Gen. 43:19–25; cf. 44:1; Isa. 22:15). At the wedding feast at Cana, it is the steward who tastes the water turned into wine by Jesus (John 2:8–9).”  ~  Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible

Here is Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition. 

STEWARD

 STEW´ARD, n. [Sax. stiward. Ward is a keeper; but the meaning of the first syllable is not evident. It is probably a contraction of G. stube, a room, Eng. stow,
  Sax. stow, place, or sted, place, or of Dan. stōb, a cup. The steward was then originally a chamberlain or a butler.]
 1. A man employed in great families to manage the domestic concerns, superintend the other servants, collect the rents or income, keep the accounts, &c. See Gen. 15:2.— 43:19.
 2. An officer of state; as lord high steward; steward of the household, &c.       England.
 3. In colleges, an officer who provides food for the students and superintends the concerns of the kitchen.
 4. In a ship of war, an officer who is appointed by the purser to distribute provisions to the officers and crew. In other ships, a man who superintends the provisions and liquors, and supplies the table.
 5. In Scripture and theology, a minister of Christ, whose duty is to dispense the provisions of the gospel, to preach its doctrines and administer its ordinances.
  It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Cor. 4.

Notice how the word “steward” has had different meanings for various situations, but it always implies that someone is trusted to care for the responsibility of someone else.

Today, the most common place we talk about stewards and stewardesses is on commercial airlines.  The pilot is responsible for the plane, the crew, the passengers, and the cargo.  However, the pilot is busy flying the plane so he has stewards to care for the passengers.  The stewards answer to the pilot.  He is the boss.  Yet, the stewards are trusted to care for the passengers according to the pilots direction and desires.  That is a good example for us as stewards.  

God is the boss.  We have been given areas of responsibility in His absence.  We should do what He wants us to do with what He has entrusted us.

Stewardship is a position of great trust and responsibility.  That’s why the Bible teaches that the number one requirement of a steward was to be faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:2  “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

Faithful to the Master’s direction.

This means that we follow His commandments.  A good steward will study the Master to know what is expected.  Then He will do what the master asks.

Faithful to the Master’s desires.

The faithful steward accomplishes more than the Master demands.  He learns the Master’s preferences.  He knows what the Master wants is situations where the Master gave no direct command.  This steward learns the principles and precepts by which the Master operates and seeks to fulfill His preferences without being asked.

 1. Faithful stewards manage the POSSESSIONS God entrusts to them.

Genesis 39:1–6 “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.”

Joseph was an excellent steward.  His master trusted him to the place that Potipher no longer kept an account of his own possessions.

Is there anyone in your life that you would trust with your most valuable possessions?

Don’t define yourself by possessions you own.  Jesus warned us against that deceitful practice.

Luke 12:15 “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

However, you should take care of what God has given you.

Proverbs 12:27 “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: But the substance of a diligent man is precious.”

We should take care of our:

  • homes
  • vehicles
  • properties
  • possessions

How do we take care of them?

  • We treat them with respect.  
  • We clean them.  
  • We provide timely maintenance and upkeep.  
  • We give thanks for them.  

This includes stewardship of church possessions as well. Church work days, cleaning volunteers, seasonal projects, vehicle maintenance, etc. are necessary ingredients to good stewardship. Every member can volunteer to help or provide money for projects.

2.   Faithful stewards manage the PEOPLE God entrusts to them.

Colossians chapters 3 & 4 list instructions for a myriad of relationships.  

PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THINGS.

Sarah Chapman

We should apply God’s principles, priorities, character to the people in our lives.

People should be treated with:

  • love
  • kindness
  • forgiveness
  • encouragement
  • grace
  • equity

Think about the various relationships in your life. Are you striving to nurture and protect them?

Parents

This is the first relationship that we have at birth.  Honor thy father and mother is the first commandment with promise.  Parents care for us when we can’t care for ourselves.  They deserve love and honor.

Siblings

Brothers and sisters have a special bond.  Too often it is corrupted by pride and pain.  These relationships should be cultivated and respected.  

Spouse 

Your spouse is the number 2 person in your life.  God is first.  Your husband or wife should be second.  Don’t allow yourselves to grow apart.  Do the same things that helped you fall in love and you will stay in love.

Children

Children are an heritage of the Lord.  They are a gift from God.  They were not given for us to mold into our image, rather we are to steward them a we point them to God and His will.

Friends

True friends are a gift from God.  Most of what are called “friends” today are not.  Be a true friend to others and you will have friends.

Pastor 

Your pastor is a gift from God.  God placed him in your life to shepherd you.  He will lead you as an ambassador of Christ, feed you spiritual food from the Word, and protect you from the wolves of life.  

Church Family

Christ founded the local church as a called-out assembly of baptized believers in your community.  Lean on one another spiritually as you navigate the troubles of life together.

3.   Faithful stewards manage the PROBLEMS God entrusts to them.

1 Corinthians 10:13  “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

If God trusted you with a trial then you can overcome it.

Years ago I received a letter from an aged preacher.  After spending the weekend preaching at our church and sent a letter of gratitude.  After he said some kind things about our church and ministry, he made a statement that took me by surprise.  He said something like, “God must trust you and your wife tremendously to give you such a heavy trial.”  

He didn’t realize how sick Sarah was until his visit.  He explained that God won’t give you more than you can handle, so He can only place upon you burdens that are smaller than your faith and trust in Him.  

As we faithfully suffer with faith in God, He uses problems to increase His work in our lives and our usefulness in His Kingdom.

1 Peter 5:10  “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

4.   Faithful stewards manage the POTENTIAL God entrusts to them.

God created you with potential.  You have greater capability than you realize.  You are not alive to merely exist, but to thrive and make a difference in your world.

John 14:12  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

Ephesians 2:10  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Our Lord created you to accomplish good works for Him. We don’t work to earn salvation, but we should we because He saved us!

God is working in your life to intersect your talents and gifts with unique opportunities. Be ready to walk through the doors He opens.

Talents 

These are gifts that God gave you at birth.  This blend of natural ability and personality is unique to you.  

Spiritual Gifts 

These are gifts that God gave you at salvation.  When energized by the spirit of God, they become great assets.

Opportunities

These are doors that God opens in your life.  Promotion comes from God.  He can provide opportunities of service and advancement that enrich your life and increase your influence.

It is up to us to steward the potential God gave us.  Don’t waste it!

Conclusion

A steward thinks about life differently.  He sees everything as a gift from God.  He seeks to manage life according to the Master’s direction and desire.  He knows that one day He will give an account for His decisions.

You and I are stewards.  That was by God’s design.  Let strive to be faithful.  That is up to us.

When did you first learn about Biblical stewardship? How are you striving to be a good steward in your life?

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