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The Stewardship of Character By Andrea Leigh Capuyan

It’s About Character, Not the Money!

 

Lately, I find myself saying, “Stewardship is NOT about money.” As a leader in Christian ministry, it is tempting to reduce stewardship down to financial gifts. Yet, stewardship concepts are about our whole life – inside and out. And the most important leadership principle is the stewardship of personal character. Really, the stewardship of character is a practice for all of us, not just leaders.

CHARACTER

Whether it’s a leadership position, or in everyday relationships, or even in roles as followers, stewardship behaviors begin with a steward identity orientation. It is not a question of – how much do we give away. A steward identity is birthed from the question of – who we are created to be. It is not about our purpose, rather it is about our character.

IDENTITY

The formation of our identity as stewards begins with wrestling with issues of ownership, power, and control. I think it is not enough for us to acknowledge that God owns everything. “Let go and let God” is a nice platitude. It is not an accurate description of our reality, and I go further, it is not a description of stewardship. The truth of the matter is that God does give us – all of us – a large degree of control and power. Our choices matter. Our decisions and actions impact others and this world.

THE COST

Folks who work in the military or the fields of medicine and technology understand this challenge. I was listening to retired Four-Star General Merrill McPeak, reflect on issues of conflict and military strategy such as a “scorched earth policy.” He spoke about weighing matters of power and principles. He discussed the Vietnam War as an illustration of principled power. There was never a doubt that the United States could win the war. It was a decision to win at what cost. It was the classic tension between CAN we do it and SHOULD we do it. There are more important outcomes at stake than winning, or gains, or accomplishments.

POWER

As I listened and reflected on General McPeak’s words I wondered,

“What if God uses conflict, decision-making, and free will to challenge our core identity?”

Power is not something we reject. Power and control shape us. Stewardship isn’t the abdication of power. Principled power accepts responsibility and the consequence of choices. Godly power isn’t just about empowering others. Godly power is about the character produced in us by our decisions. Power and control are God’s invitations for each of us to confront something more significant in us – something more important is at stake than a victorious outcome. It is about our very soul.

It is about understanding the cost. It is a question of identity. It is about the formation of hearts and minds. He wants us to wrestle with Him about the question of WHO we want to be. The choices we make are powerful because they shape our character and identity.

COMPASSION

For me, I want to be guided and defined by compassion, curiosity, and encouragement. As a leader, a friend, a woman, a sister, a steward, I want these attributes to guide and refine my actions. Decisions and conflicts are invitations that can anchor our authority in a growing dependency on God, AND conform us more to His image. It is not a question about success. It is – how do my decisions reflect who God designed me to be? How do my decisions reflect God’s character? How do my decisions impact others? The right decision will further God changing me, exposing what I don’t know and where I need to grow. I want my authority honed by humility and hope.

CONTROL

A steward is not a person of passivity or withdrawal. A steward does not reject authority or control. A steward is unafraid to examine how their powerful actions hinder or hamper God’s greater control in their life. A steward welcomes this kind of scrutiny and revelation. It isn’t about expanding our reach; it is about personal transformation.

STEWARDSHIP

Stewardship isn’t about money. It’s about much, much more. As we exercise authority, stewardship is about our character and principles. Our leadership is fruitless if it does not cultivate God’s Kingdom. This is more important than ruling realms and multiplying influence. The big decisions we confront and the hard choices we make mold us. It is about who God is and who we are. Listening and learning are stewardship.

For you, how are you thinking about your authority as a leader…as a steward? Are you actively engaged in a deep exploration with God about the person you are? Is there a “scorched earth policy” influencing you? What are the principles which direct you? How do want to be known?

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”  (Mark 8:36)

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Andrea Leigh Capuyan is the Executive Director of Laurel Pregnancy Center. Andrea holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from York College. She is a Credentialed Christian Nonprofit Leader with Christian Leadership Alliance and a Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional.

 

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