Skip to content

Humility and the Steward Leader By Dr. Marybeth Leavell

“Humility is simply the proper assessment of who we are in relationship to God.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

A favorite saying of mine is, “One of the leadership traits that I am most proud of is my humility!” Even though this is laughable, it may seem like an unlikely trait for leaders in our culture, who are often expected to be assertive and confident. Modern leadership theories increasingly highlight humility as an essential trait of influential leaders. It is not possible to chase or pursue it, and this only leads to pride.

The Humble Steward Leader

As a Christian steward leader, humility and stewardship reinforce each other and are deeply interconnected. Steward leaders recognize that the responsibility of a leader is to serve as a caretaker of an organization by prioritizing the well-being and development of their people and resources on behalf of God, the owner of all. As such, a steward leader commits to managing resources (time and talents), responsibilities (treasure), and relationships with care and integrity. The steward leader is the guardian of the organization’s mission, values, and assets and acts in the best interests of employees, customers, and the broader community. A humble steward leader finds significance, identity, worth, and role in the foundation of who God is and what He has done for us, not account of who we are or what we have done for Him. As a result, the steward leader can foster a culture of service to others, is accountable, and makes ethical decisions.

Service to Others

Humility involves prioritizing the well-being and development of others over one’s own. For steward leaders, this means prioritizing team members’ and stakeholders’ well-being and development over personal ambitions. This approach builds trust and loyalty, which is essential for sustainable success. Humble leaders genuinely care for their team members and strive to understand their needs, aspirations, and challenges. This empathy drives stewardship.

Both humility and stewardship emphasize service over self-interest. Humble leaders view their role as serving their team as their most significant role. Stewardship involves empowering team members and fostering their growth. Steward leaders support this by providing opportunities for professional development and recognizing that nurturing talent benefits the entire organization. They also empower others by cultivating an environment of trust, respect, and open communication. They recognize each individual’s unique talents, perspectives, and contributions and encourage collaboration and teamwork. They create opportunities for sharing knowledge, expertise, and best practices by facilitating collaboration across departments and teams. Leaders and followers work together as partners, leveraging their strengths to encourage innovation, problem-solving, and organizational success.


Humble leaders are willing to admit mistakes and learn from them. Accountability in leadership involves being responsible for one’s actions, decisions, and outcomes, first to God and then to self and others. Steward leaders set clear expectations, take ownership of their responsibilities, and hold themselves and their team accountable for meeting commitments and standards. As such, they are open about their decisions and the reasons behind them and accept responsibility for their actions and the actions of their team. They uphold standards and commit while adhering to moral and ethical principles, even when challenging.

Steward leaders who are humble are lifelong learners. They are open to new ideas, feedback, and constructive criticism. This attitude is crucial for steward leaders who must continuously adapt and improve their stewardship practices. Humility keeps leaders open to learning and growth. Humble leaders recognize that they do not have all the answers and are willing to seek advice, learn from others, and adapt to new information. This transparency fosters a culture of accountability, where everyone feels responsible for the organization’s success and is encouraged to act with integrity. As a result, a culture of trust and safety is nurtured where everyone is encouraged to develop, innovate, and continuously improve.

Ethical Decision-Making

Leaders who embody humility and stewardship regularly reflect on personal faith-centered values and how those align with organizational values. Relying on faith and seeking God’s guidance through prayer when making decisions enables the steward leader to integrate personal values with those of the organization. This consistency and convergence of core values strengthen the organization’s mission, vision, and long-term goals.

Leaders exemplify ethical decision-making and humility and foster a culture of trust and mutual respect. Employees are more likely to feel valued and motivated, increasing engagement and productivity. A humble, stewardship-oriented leadership style encourages a safe environment for innovation. Team members feel comfortable sharing ideas and taking risks, knowing their leaders will support and guide them rather than criticize or punish them. Organizations led by humble stewards are better positioned for long-term success. Ethical considerations, sustainable practices, and a commitment to the welfare of all stakeholders guide their decisions. Taken together, these ensure stability and growth over time.


Stewardship with humility creates a leadership approach that honors God. The Christian steward leader is to be noticeably different in their view of themselves and others. The ground is level at the foot of the cross as it raises us and lowers us simultaneously, putting us in a proper relationship with God and others. Within organizations, this is evidenced by how the humble steward leader values people, focuses on accountability, and makes ethical decisions. When leaders are humble and serve as role models for others, they demonstrate that success is not about personal achievement but rather about stewarding the organization in selfless, joyful service to others and God.  


Dr. Mary Leavell is a Columbia International University adjunct faculty member/methodologist. She is an experienced educational consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry.


What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

Upcoming Events

Check back later!