CHURCH OF NIGERIA (ANGLICAN COMMUNION)
BEING THE TEXT OF A LECTURE DELIVERED AT THE IFO DISTRICT CHURCH COUNCIL PARISH COUNCILORS’ RETREAT HELD AT THE CATHEDRAL OF HOLY TRINITY, OKENLA, IFO, OGUN STATE ON SATURDAY, 21ST MARCH, 2009.
All protocols observed.
“And the Lord said, ‘Who then is that faithful and wise steward, who his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” – Luke 12: 42 - 43
A good steward must know the meaning of the word ‘stewardship’ and what it requires of him. Booth Tarkigton, an author who wrote a best-seller entitled “Penrod” talks in this book about the adventures and misadventures of a lad who was greatly misunderstood, and who in turn, misunderstood the words and intentions of others. For example, referring to him as, “a little gentleman” would precipitate resentment and probably a fist fight. He thought that was an insult instead of a compliment, and that it meant that he was no good and in the way of everybody. In the same vein, there are some who may misunderstand the word ‘Steward’ as well as ‘Faithful’. It is in the light of this type of situation that I will first attempt the definitions of Stewardship and Faithfulness.
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English by A. S. Hornby, to be faithful is defined, as it relates to this topic, as: 1.Staying with or supporting a particular person, organisation or belief 2.true and accurate, not changing anything
3.able to be trusted; that you can rely on
6.(the Faithful) the believers in a religion.
This is defined as “the act of taking care of or managing something, for example, property, an organisation, money or valuable objects”. Aside the above definition, there are so many other definitions as put forward by different authors and scholars. These include this one give, especially on Christian Stewardship. It goes thus: “Christian Stewardship is the acknowledgement of God’s ownership, the acceptance of our trusteeship of life and possessions, and the administration of the same according to the will of God”.
This goes to say that everything that we have belongs to God and that we are only holding whatever we have in trust for Him. It goes further to say these must be managed, administered or distributed in line with God’s set standard. Like Basil Miller puts it in his book, “Treasury of Stewardship Illustrations”, Christian Stewardship involves the whole of life. It is not so much GIVING to the Lord as LIVING unto Him.
WHO THEN IS A STEWARD?:
In the Old Testament, a steward is a man who is ‘over a house’ (Gen. 43: 19; 44:4; Isaiah 22:15). In the New Testament however, two words are translated steward: (a)‘epitropos’ – that is, one to whose care or honour one has been entrusted, a curator, a foreman, a guardian (Matthew 20:8; Gal. 4:2) (b)‘oikonomos’ – that is, a manager, a superintendent, from oikos (‘house’) and nemo (‘to dispense’ or ‘to manage’). – Luke 16: 2-3; I Cor. 4: 1-2; Titus 1:7; I Pet. 4:10). The word is used to describe the function of delegated responsibility, as in the parables of the labourers, and the unjust steward.
More profoundly, it is used of the Christian’s responsibility delegated to him under ‘Christ’s kingly government of His own house’. All things are Christ’s and Christians are the executors or stewards.
A steward is therefore, ‘a person employed to manage another person’s property, especially a large house or land. He is a manager of a household or of property’. It is used of Christians, particularly ministers, as guardians of the affairs of God.
You may look at yourself, be you a Teacher – Bible Study or Sunday School, Prayer Warrior, Altar Server, Layreaders, Guild of Stewards/Ushers,...