The Battle of a Steward Leader By Andrea Leigh Capuyan
The Battle Steward Leaders Encounter
Steward leader. What do these words even mean?
I am struggling. I am wrestling. It’s a battle. Beyond trendy management models and pithy blog posts, God is challenging me. He is disrupting the bedrock of my soul.
What does mean to BE a steward – at all the times and in all spaces? How is stewardship defining not one part of me, how is it defining all of me? Do I really believe that being a steward is the crux of my identity? Because if that is true, do I really want God’s ownership? Am I submitted to his ownership? Because if it is true – I am a steward – then I must relinquish my demands, my rights, and my privilege. I must become a slave.
Slave. It’s an awful and disturbing word. I cannot escape this word when I think deeply about steward theology.
What concepts am I proposing? What framework am I embracing? This feels wrong. And yet, I see challenging illustrations in Scripture – owner and servant, master and slave, king and steward. I don’t want to skip pass this imagery too quickly. I don’t wish to make light of the harsh reality of imprisonment and captivity. The stories of stewards in Scripture…Joseph…Esther…Daniel. They are not easy. These are not saccharine tales reserved for Sunday school story time. To be a steward is an invitation to suffering. To be willing to be dismantled.
A Deeper Reality
I find it strange that God would use perverse human constructs to illustrate a deeper reality He holds for me. And I think I am tempted to make excuses for systems of oppression in Scripture because I want to deny the reality of the harm my own selfish demands cause. I don’t want to see those systems for what they truly are…bondage…evil…sin. I want to minimize. I want to escape what is true. Because what is true is that far too often I vie for control – owner, master…‘queen of the world’. Far too often I am the perpetrator.
Dear God, confront my tendency to leverage my position and privilege. To declare my independence, stand my ground, and fortify my own self-protection. Dear God, shatter my illusion of control, and remind me that You created me to be enslaved by Your love, a faithful steward of Your Kingdom.
The Every Day Battle
There is a battle. A war…in me. On the frontlines of my heart.
Every day the Holy Spirit is conducting the painful work of changing my heart of stone to a heart of flesh.
Every day is an exchange of self-rule and self-will for humility and submission.
Every day I must acknowledge, agree, and accept the many times I cause harm…that I abuse…that I keep others under my thumb.
When I am committed to myself as master and commander, I am declaring an allegiance to evil. I need an exchange of ownership, a transfer of power.
Every day it is the Holy Spirit who exposes and severs these selfish commitments.
And every day it is the Holy Spirit who molds my true identity – a steward – a slave to His reign, rule, and power.
Every day we wrestle.
Every day I am changed. And every day I pray…
“Holy Spirit, come and deliver me again. Holy Spirit, come and bring life again.”
– Holy Spirit Come, 2009 Wendell Kimbrough
Anchored in Love
The life of God’s steward is not rooted in human paradigms of domination. Because that is not God. Our paradigms are born from our distortions. We perpetuate the corruption of power. God is THE King and Master whose authority and power is love. And my identity is anchored in the power of this love – His love. God makes me an agent of His goodness and abundance for all mankind. He entrusts me to act in His power…to build, to redeem, and to reconcile. His power is defined by relentless love, unending mercy, and a forgiveness that will take me to the point of death. His love takes slaves and makes them sons.
So, until these wrestling days are done and the battle is over, I desire to walk as a faithful steward in the way of relinquishment and suffering.
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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