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Oct18FriResponsible stewardship helps The Salvation Army grow. October 18, 2019 by Tharwat EskanderStewardship is a quality of character highly regarded in the Bible. A steward manages something on someone else’s behalf with integrity and care.
The life of Joseph is an excellent example of faithful stewardship. The first mention of Joseph’s good stewardship is in Genesis 37, when his father asked him to look for his brothers, who were tending their flocks, and bring back word. After discovering they weren’t where they were supposed to be, Joseph didn’t return to his father; he kept searching diligently until he found them.
His brothers, jealous of Joseph as their father’s favourite, plotted to kill him, and then sold him into slavery. Joseph was taken to Egypt, where he became a slave for Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard.
This horrific experience could have made Joseph give up on his values, but instead he continued to demonstrate his trustworthiness. In fact, Potiphar felt so confident in Joseph’s stewardship that he put him in charge of his household and all that he owned.
Stewardship and integrity go hand in hand. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, he refused to compromise his integrity, knowing that what God thought and the trust of his master were far more important.
His stand cost him his freedom, yet he still modelled stewardship even in prison, where the warden put him in charge of all the prisoners. While there, Joseph interpreted dreams for Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and baker.
Two years later, Pharaoh was troubled by a dream that no one was able to interpret. His cupbearer, now restored to his position, told him about Joseph. Pharaoh sent for him, and he interpreted the king’s dreams about a coming famine.
We know the rest of the story. Joseph was put in charge over all of Egypt. For the next seven years, he stored up the plenty of the harvest. In the subsequent seven years of severe famine, Egypt sold grain not only to hungry Egyptians, but to the whole region.
Joseph’s family, also suffering from the drought, came to Egypt to buy grain, leading to reunion and reconciliation. Joseph’s wisdom and discernment saved his people.
How can we apply what we’ve learned from Joseph about stewardship to our lives, in our corps and at the territorial level? Stewardship isn’t only good management of funds, property or whatever we’re entrusted with; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when no one is watching. Joseph acted with honesty and integrity even when he was mistreated. He didn’t compromise his values to survive or get ahead.
This might seem countercultural. It won’t get you on a list of popular people. But God sees the faithful heart and rewards it. Joseph’s stewardship blessed the nation he lived in and his family, the future nation of Israel.
When we make stewardship a top priority as we minister, we make a statement to our community that we live by the high standards that God expects of us. When we lead a congregation by example, we will be a blessing to our community and we can raise a generation of good stewards who can be entrusted to use various resources in the best way possible.
At an organizational level, stewardship is one of our four core values. We need to lead by example in stewarding our resources, including employees and volunteers, monetary donations, assets and gifts, as well as the environment.
We learn from Joseph that we can benefit our territory by giving hope to those who need it the most by making efficient use of our resources, living with integrity and providing a better environment for the generations to come.
Tharwat Eskander is the stewardship consultant in the corps ministries department at territorial headquarters.
This is the last in a series on the Canada and Bermuda Territory’s new core values: dignity, hope, service and stewardship (visit salvationist.ca/corevalues).
Illustration: erhui1979/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images