The sixth and final temptation in the way we as leaders deal with money is to play the owner and not the steward. The previous five temptations may be wrapped up and subsumed under this one powerful Christian concept. We are stewards not owners. Our earthly existence can be understood on four planes; our relationships with God, with ourselves, with our neighbor and with the creation itself. On all four planes we live in relationships that were distorted and destroyed in the fall and completely restored in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They have now been given back to us as precious gifts with the command to steward each to the glory of God. There is not one item on any plane that we ever own for one moment of our earthly existence. It all belongs to God.
When we pretend to be owners we return to the original sin in Eden and grasp at an alien ownership that will only serve to put us in bondage. The Christian leader must never forget that these two things are inseparable; ownership and bondage. And just as inseparable are stewardship and freedom! That is the choice set before us every moment we choose to serve as a leader. If we believe we own our employees, our clients, our facilities, our students, our inventory or our profits, we will serve as leaders in absolute bondage. With that bondage comes fear, anxiety, relentless pressure, discouragement and despair. It is from this place of bondage that all five of the temptations listed above will call to us louder and louder, offering us freedom through the accumulation of wealth and the supposed control and power that it can offer. Ownership and bondage simply yield deeper bondage.
The steward leader must make it a daily discipline to refuse the temptation to ownership and assume with joy and privilege the mantle of the godly steward in every area of his or her life. As a steward leader we can handle money in a way that robs it of its power and places it in the service of the kingdom of God. And we can lead our people to do the same.
Are leading from a position of ownership or as a faithful steward? Are you in bondage or have you been set free in your relationship to money? If you have, how are you leading others to that same freedom?