There are literally thousands of books on Church leadership on the market. More than you can probably read. Which makes it tough for another book on Leadership to get noticed. R. Scott Rodin’s book The Steward Leader, should be noticed. Don’t let this book pass you by.
Writing in the same vain as Henri Houwen did in In The Name Of Jesus (Rodin quotes from this book a number of times) we are challenged about how we do leadership in the church. Too many leaders are what Rodin calls ‘owner-leaders’, that is leaders who have a drive to succeed in the belief that they own their ministry, own their employees and own their vision. Such a leader will place value almost exclusively on what is accomplished, regardless of the consequences for those around them.
You may say that you are not that kind of leader. Really? Haven’t we all fallen into this thinking? In fact, is it not, to some extent, the dominant thinking in Church leadership, if not implicitly then explicitly?
Rodin does not dismiss the notion of ‘results’ but the question is from where does the motivation and practice for results come from and what form does it take.
Rodin says that his definition of the godly steward is:
As God’s people, we are called to reflect the image of our creator God, through whole, redeemed relationships at four levels – with God, with ourself, with our neighbor and with creation – bringing glory to God and practicing in each the ongoing work of the faithful steward.
The book revolves around these four levels, or as he calls them in the book, transformations and trajectories. The focus of this book is that a steward leader nurtures his relationship with God first and foremost. That is the first priority of a leader – nurture, develop, grow and be steeped in your relationship with God, recognizing that this is not about you but about Him (God) – that it’s His Church, not yours, His vision, not yours. We must let go of our reputations and our desire to be ‘successful’. We do not make it happen – God does. We are not building our kingdom but God’s kingdom. What a steward leader does is to help cultivate people into godly people who are also godly stewards. That is the success mark. A Steward leader joyfully lives life in obedience to God. A Steward Leader knows the correct priorities of life and ministry.
Reading this book made me feel both excited and free. The insidious burdens and pressures of Christian leadership which are heaped upon ministers MUST be broken. Ministers MUST feel free to spend LARGE quantities of time in prayer, contemplation and the scriptures. Vestry’s and Leadership Boards must stop seeing days spent by the minister in quiet retreat as ‘extra days off’ or ‘slacking’ but as a vital component of serving God in his Church. The extreme over-busyness of current leadership models are not just ungodly but they are destructive.
As a minister, read this book. The hardest part of this book will be the conflict between the freedom you will experience as you read and the realization that you MUST, MUST put it into practice, NOW.