Religion & Liberty Online

Principles for Executive Stewardship

Over at Desiring God blog, Sam Crabtree offers 16 simple principles, each accompanied by Scripture, to help reorient our thinking about the work of our hands, particularly among those in executive and administrative roles.

Highlighting our persistent human tendency to neglect our Creator, Crabtree cautions against the subtle temptation to begin operating “as if we really can execute on our tasks all by our lonesome, without the constant help of our God.” What distinguishes a distinctly Christian executive?

Some examples:

6. God-centered work is not work with God as an appendage or afterthought.

He is the core, the root, the source, the origin, the power, the point of it all.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:24–25)

8. God-centeredness implies, requires, and builds humility.

What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

10. God-centered administrators and executives recruit and unleash competent, trustworthy people who fear God and are not driven by greed.

Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. (Exodus 18:21)

11. God-centered administrators affirm God-given gifts and character wherever they spot them.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. (1 Peter 2:13–14)

These are helpful reminders, and many executive and administrator roles surely bear unique and somewhat disproportionate burdens. If one is given much, whether in ownership, skills, authority, or resources—human or otherwise—much will be required.

In Work: The Meaning of Your Life, Lester DeKoster observes it from another angle, noting how “certain jobs unite work and wage (and price) in someone’s decision.” Such a task demands a “fixed eye on justice,” he argues, but one bound to balancing a uniquely complex series features (service/product quality, wages, profits, working conditions, overall mission, human flourishing, etc.).

Yet while executives may surely execute, “ordinary” doers do plenty as well, a fact that Crabtree notes right of the bat. And as DeKoster goes on to explain, reconsidering “executive stewardship” as commonly conceived, should eventually lead the Christian back to the simple and ordinary, which, of course, is neither simple nor ordinary.

Work: The Meaning of Your Life, Lester DeKosterIn the end, DeKoster concludes, such lessons apply to all laborers:

All of us, of course, are just such executives, with God’s will as the mandate given us to execute. All of us, too, are just such stewards, for we each carry about within us God’s investment of life, time, and talent…

…Executive stewardship involves all of us, of course. Have we always envied “big” names? Always wanted to be responsible for really important decisions? Well, we are. Each of us is! Upon our decisions hangs the destiny of a human self—our own self—of more importance Jesus says than the whole world besides. Have we always wanted to be noticed, to be watched by important people, to “play” before a really significant audience? Well, we do. Each of us does!

We live our lives, inside and out, in the omnipresence of God! We “play” very moment before an Audience of One—who holds our destiny in his hand! Aware of that, we should live our lives as wholly unto him, every moment! It all comes down, day by day, moment by moment to executive decision.

Read Crabtree’s complete 16 points.

Purchase Lester DeKoster’s Work: The Meaning of Your Life.

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Joseph Sunde

Joseph Sunde's work has appeared in venues such as the Foundation for Economic Education, First Things, The Christian Post, The Stream, Intellectual Takeout, Patheos, LifeSiteNews, The City, Charisma News, The Green Room, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work, as well as on PowerBlog. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and four children.