Leadership Tensions: Ownership vs. Stewardship

Happy Monday everyone!  Today we’re continuing our leadership tensions series with Ownership vs. Stewardship.

As I began writing this post I really felt like this equation had one more step:

Renter vs. Owner vs. Steward

Most leaders aspire to move their staff from renters to owners.  The theory being that we want full engagement rather than passive involvement.  Renters take.  Owners invest.  We want teams who feel ownership of the process and decisions.  The more they feel a part of the purpose and goals of the organization, the more care and intentionality they will have in their part.

In fact, at Cross Point one of our staff values is “Own It”.  I describe that value in more detail in this post.

But the leadership tension with the idea of ownership is that ownership can have a tendency to drift towards entitlement.  The more invested I am in something, the more costly it would be to lose.  The more control I have acquired, the more insecure I become about things not going my way.

Stewardship on the other hand recognizes that I’ve been entrusted with something valuable and I have a responsibility to give it my best care.  I don’t own it but I’ve been given an amazing privilege.

The trouble with leading through this tension is that ownership is so highly valued in our culture that we have a tendency to completely abdicate responsibility and walk away (rent) if we don’t have full control (ownership).

If these are your hands and in them God has placed your role and responsibilities, as a steward you would keep your hands open and gently hold those items being sensitive to how God leads you and directs you.  You would carry them confidently yet gently.  You would be a steward.

When you become complacent, bored, frustrated or disinterested you begin to get tired of holding it.  You don’t see the purpose and you don’t have the energy to keep gently holding this thing that you have little control over.  Before you know it you’ve thrown up your hands and walked away.  You became a renter.

When you become nervous, insecure, threatened or scared your tendency is to start grasping hold of it.  Your fingers begin to curl around it and before you know it, you’ve developed such a death grip that you’re squeezing the life out of it.  You’ve become a frantic owner.

In leading our teams we have to constantly be measuring our pulse of renter vs owner vs steward, both for ourselves and those we lead.

Don’t abdicate.  Don’t death grip.  Steward faithfully!

Is there an area of your life or leadership that you’re either abdicating or controlling?  What could you do to more faithfully begin stewarding it?

  • http://twitter.com/KimberLiu Kimber Liu

    Jenni thanks for this! I appreciate your thoughts on how stewardship can slip into becoming a “renter” if we don’t pay careful attention to our boredom and frustration levels. Duly noted!

  • http://www.margaretfeinberg.com/ Margaret

    Easy to slip into the renter mode when we feel overwhelmed. Thanks for this!