1 Corinthians 4:1-7
Man, do I have a lot going on in my head tonight as I read this passage. As a pastor, it hits me pretty close to home, and the word “steward” comes right to the top of the list. Paul says, “Here’s the deal: I am a servant and a steward. I serve Christ and I’m a steward of the Gospel.”
If you haven’t already, read this closely:
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. 2Moreover, it is required of stewards that they should be found trustworthy. 3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.
As ministers/pastors and stewards of the Gospel:
- We must be trustworthy. God must be able to trust us. That means integrity, full-blown, with no excuses and nothing held back. NO ulterior selfish motives. We must be authentic servants of Jesus. Being this takes several miracles of God’s grace, to be sure, but there’s no way around untrustworthiness.
- We must be accountable. And we will be, whether we like it or not. I had a very immature associate pastor tell me once he believed he was no different than any other person in that the idea that clergy/church leaders are held to a higher standard is an unrealistic myth. Turns out he was using that as an excuse to hide his untrustworthiness. Stewards who avoid accountability to the owner have something to hide 99.9999% of the time. Accountability will come for him– and me– someday, direct from the throne of the Lord. As Paul says in the passage, the Lord’s accountability makes human accountability look like a small thing. Stewards had better get used to the idea and practice of accountability.
- We must understand we are not the owners. This thing of which we are Stewards, namely the Gospel, is not ours. It’s not yours. Repeat that: It’s not ours. It’s the Lord’s. Like our lives, or marriages, our children, our property and our giftedness. They’re on-loan. We don’t own them. We need to stop acting as if we do.
- We must put the Gospel into action. The best pastors, in my opinion, are the men and women who not only preach the Gospel well, but intentionally find ways of inspiring, empowering, and equipping their people to live-out the Gospel. Putting on an entertaining show Sunday Morning doesn’t matter a hill of beans if we’re not seeing our people actually live this thing out come Monday morning.
- We must know what battles are worth fighting, and which one’s aren’t. I won’t say much here, because I stink at this one. Suffice it to say there are times to stand up and speak as a faithful steward, and there are times when the issue doesn’t really pose a legit threat in the first place.
- We must know when our ministry in a place is done, and when it’s not. This kinda goes back to #3. Leaving too soon just because things got tough is not a good thing (I know because unfortunately we’ve done it). However, we must be able to recognize it’s time to hand the work off to Apollos and move on. Handing the work in a particular place to the next Steward need not be a bad thing. That’s why Paul says in the passage there’s no need to play one off against the other. Paul sowed. Apollos watered. Christ is the boss. ‘Nuff said.
That’s a snippet of what’s on my mind tonight from 1 Corinthians 4.