Steward, Shepherd and Servant: Understanding Your Leadership Roles

As Christian business leaders, we have three roles: steward, shepherd and servant. A steward manages the owner’s resources for the benefit of the estate and the advancement of the owner’s agenda. A shepherd cares for the sheep and leads them to the place of safety and benefit. A servant attends to the needs and desires of the people he serves. Jesus, our model, demonstrated and talked about these qualities extensively.

As stewards, we’re responsible to God, government, shareholders and team members. The parable of the talents is clear: God expects us to get a fair return on the assets entrusted to us. Casting a compelling vision, creating and maintaining healthy profitability, using biblical principles to operate the business and investing in God’s work fall into the category of stewardship.

“He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty. A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 28:19-20).

In our role as shepherds, we’re responsible to care for our people. Do we view them as precious in God’s sight or simply as a means to accomplish our goals? In addition to providing fair or generous wages and benefits, are we providing an excellent work environment and pointing them toward the Good Shepherd? Our faithfulness toward God will be shown by our faithfulness toward people.

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

As a servant leaders, we’re responsible to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than ourselves. Each of us should look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Of the steward, shepherd, and servant roles, which is easiest for you? Which is most challenging? Why?