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Serving as Responsible Stewards

(1 Corinthians 4:1-13)

Lesson 4 -- first quarter 2006
June 25, 2006

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2006

Focusing on ordained stewards

What do you expect (maybe even demand!) of your church leaders? Is attention-keeping oratory all we expect? I doubt so. We want ministers to be friendly, sensitive, spiritual, perceptive, kind, and exemplary. We want them to be in touch with us, knowing us, and caring about us. We want them to be humble and meek, but also firm and confident. You expand the list.

How do you react when a minister falls short in one of the above areas? Hmmmm. I find that criticism and harshness come too easily in such cases. I know we don't find it all that difficult to talk to others about ministerial shortcomings. We all know we should reject such responses. Instead, try praying. Try compassion and mercy. Try encouragement, even before he falls short. Oh, yes. And when someone comes to you "fussing" about a church leader, you might try a radical response: "You're right! He is human. Let's go over in that corner and pray for him right now."

Do you have a role in the faithfulness of a minister? No, you can't trundle around after him, making sure he stays out of trouble and keeps his shoulder to the wheel. And we certainly shouldn't develop some sort of surveillance network. For sure we wouldn't think of calling him up at least once a day to ask, "Are you still being faithful?" But we can show ourselves supportive.

Pray! To do so effectively, we need to become enough involved in their lives to know how to pray according to their particular needs. Pray for them in their personal and family lives. Pray for them in their church and community lives. But pray specifically and pray according to knowledge. Care enough to pray enough.

Encourage! If you are observant, you will soon learn when a minister needs encouragement and in what areas. Don't avoid him. Let him know what about his message or his life or his decisions have been a blessing and challenge to you. Ask him more about what he said (he likely still has something he wishes he could have said or would have remembered to say). Write him a note.

Defend! All ministers need defenders. Sure, they have The Defender, but that doesn't get you off the hook, my friend. Stand up for your church leaders. They certainly aren't perfect, but that doesn't excuse any attackers.

Is it too trite and superficial to say, "Behind every faithful minister stands a faithful congregation"? There in lies part of my stewardship as an unordained man.

More focus on me

What is required of lights? Illumination. Of stewards? Faithfulness. God's measure of John's stewardship is on the same terms as His measure of my stewardship with this quarterly -- faithfulness. God's measure of John's stewardship is on the same terms as His measure of your stewardship with the junior Sunday School class -- faithfulness. Whether it is writing a quarterly, teaching from a quarterly, or announcing the impending arrival of the Messiah, preparing the hearts of individuals to listen to the Master requires faithfulness.

In this context, we can safely say that any task we may have is virtually insignificant of itself; its potential for greatness springs from our own faithfulness to its completion. The ramifications of this concept are truly amazing. The meanest of tasks is made great if we faithfully see it through to its finish and thereby light the way to Jesus just a little more clearly for someone.

Passage gleanings

What follows are some points I extracted for today's lesson. The items without a reference came from 1 Corinthians 4:1-13. Can you find the source verse(s)?

Stewards serve someone other than themselves.

Faithfulness is required of stewards.
  • faithfulness to the will of his lord (Luke 12:47)
  • faithful no matter how small or large the assignment (Luke 16:10)
  • faithfulness is rewarded in stewards (Luke 12:42)
  • The lord of the steward praises the faithful steward

    Stewards are not to be pitted one against another.

    The steward's standard is not another steward.

    The lord of the steward judges the steward.
  • also Romans 14.4

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