A Steward leader in the Storm by Andrea Leigh Capuyan
How does a steward leader encounter the storm?
The storm is raging all around me, and it is raging in me. How can God remain so still? Is he sleeping and unaware? How am I supposed to continue steering this boat when the strong winds blow? Even in the midst of chaos, we remain stewards. And the chaos can be God’s invitation to grow in stewardship.
If we let Him, God uses external chaos to expose our internal chaos. He will reveal those places in our heart where we are tossed to and fro…unsettled and untethered. Power and ownership are at the center of biblical stewardship. To embrace a life of stewardship requires a willingness to examine any internal commitments to ownership.
Stewardship begins with an acknowledgment that God owns everything. This acknowledgement remains a continual part of our journey. And in the midst of the storm when what is true seems upended and a safe harbor seems to be a distance shore, the refrain that God is in control becomes a daily, indeed, a moment by moment prayer for a steward.
When facing a storm and mounting chaos, the steward leader pauses and attends to their personal emotions, reactions, and inner turmoil. Perseverance is not a choice to ignore personal reactions and ‘white-knuckle’ our way through the storm. In fact as leaders if we do not take time to examine what is stirring in us, then our denial will contribute to what is raging and the chaos will grow. Hard circumstances are an opportunity to deepen our self-awareness. Even in while walking through difficulty, God invites us to wrestle and embrace all that confounds us as His image-bearers. I believe there are important themes which rise to the surface during challenging times directly connected to stewardship, ownership, and control.
For any leader, manager, or decision-maker a sense of responsibility is key. Leader who are not thoughtful and responsible are reckless. Yet, over time as our influence expands we can fall into a trap of over-reach. We can begin to assume responsibility for matters which are not ours. It is true that in our relationships, our churches, and our organizations we need leaders who will support the team, guard the team, guide the team, and have their back. Flourishing environments welcome risk, expect mistakes, and foster learning. The heart of steward leadership reflects these behaviors.
At the same time there is a danger with the mentality ‘the buck stops here’ because it can entice a leader into micro-management. Because we believe we alone bear the burden for all the problems. We alone become responsible to fix everything. We trade good leadership for actions more akin to a helicopter parent, impairing the growth of others. The desire to over-reach masks a desire for control and ownership. However, personal responsibility remains focused on personal change.
We cannot change others. We can invite change, yes, but we do not have the power to make people change. We can model personal responsibility. We can choose to hold only what God says is ours to hold. Acting with personal responsibility cultivates humility because we release our demands for control. We accept our boundaries and limits. Acting otherwise, places a steward at loggerheads with the desires, will, and activity of God. It promotes dysfunction and burn-out. The truth is this – success is not all about us and neither is failure all our fault. If we are not “the savior of all”, then neither are we “the devil among us”. Instead, we ask
- How am I contributing to the problems?
- Do I ‘hear’ an internal message that, ‘this is all my fault’? What might be behind this message?
- Who else shares responsibility in this situation?
- What are our options moving forward? What is each person’s personal responsibility for taking action?
- Do I allow others to try and fail? What thoughts stir in my head when I allow others to take responsibility? Do I make room for mistakes – my own and others?
- What is God asking me to hold and what does He want me to release?
When life turn sideways, it is tempting to think we must stifle are our needs and our cares. The most powerful storms in reality will reveal our longings. In the doldrums we can become numb to our personal needs. It is a danger to think a steward must be “need-less” and “want-less” while caring for the best interest of others. This is not true. This is not selflessness. When we deny our needs, we move toward resistance, operating independent of God and others. Biblical stewardship is rooted in the truth that we were created to need others, to need help.
Stewardship flourishes in partnership not in isolation. God created us to experience abundant life when we live fully open to Him and fully dependent on Him. This means we live in awareness of our needs. This frees us to create interdependent relationships around us. Steward leaders, who move toward their neediness and dependency, will be able to recognize others in the boat with them weathering the storm. They will move toward finding help and cultivating mutual partnerships.
Even in the worst weather, our Rescuer remains at rest. There is nothing, externally or internally, which we face that alarms God. He is never anxious. As we face our storms today, my prayer is that we will respond to His still, calm voice. We will respond to His invitation to understand what is really happening inside of us. So that we can look beyond the storm to see He is at work. He is in charge. You can depend on Him.
“Dear Lord Jesus, friend of sinners, have mercy on us.”
Andrea Leigh Capuyan, CCNL, CNAP, is the Executive Director of the Laurel Pregnancy Center in Laurel, Maryland. She is cares about leadership development and organizational culture within the small nonprofit ministry setting. She is passionate about encouraging fellow women in their roles as leaders. Defining our identity as a steward of God informs her perspective on everything – faith, leadership and spiritual transformation.
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