But those farmhands saw their chance. They rubbed their hands together in greed and said,
“This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.”
There is a critical difference between a steward and an owner. Mark 12 tells a story about some vine growers who refused to give the fruit of cultivation to the landowner. They beat and killed every person the landowner sent, even his beloved son. These vine-growers were not the owners; they were only stewards, yet they acted as if they owned the vineyard.
When we are an owner, we think that just because we have first dibs on something, it is essentially ours. I go to the gym three days a week in the early morning and use a certain cardio machine—the second one on the first row. That is my machine. Just as I was getting into my ownership routine, a woman started getting there a few minutes ahead of me. Every morning, she was on my machine. The Lord put me through many changes over that until I began to see the subtle and demanding nature of ownership.
In church, ownership takes many forms including sitting in the third pew on the left. All the regular churchgoers know that that is your seat so they choose to sit elsewhere. We know we are an owner when we get all bent out of shape if a visitor takes our assigned seat. I knew a man who was one of the most powerful worship leaders, but he owned it. One day, the Lord just lifted the anointing from him not because of overt sin, but because he began to be an owner. We are called to be stewards, not owners. It is not our church, or our people; it is His church and His people. It is not our parking place or our particular privilege.
Ownership can be seen in offices and titles, i.e. apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher. When someone goes by Apostle Smith or Prophet Jones, there is a good chance they feel some ownership of the position. Someone once introduced me as Dr. Mumford and when I got up to speak I said, “I’m not a doctor, I’m not even a nurse.” I was seeking to avoid illegal ownership. The minute we start owning anything or anyone, we have abandoned our call to be stewards.
Several years ago, we sent our son, Eric, into another country to build a family home for orphans. Once established, Eric appointed a steward to help oversee the work there. This steward slowly began to take ownership of the home. Once he felt he was the owner, he began to assassinate Eric’s character by giving false reports to the media and social workers and eventually took Eric to court for custody of the children in the home. The social workers believed the media stories and soon Eric was forced to abandon the work he started there. Essentially, this steward beat up our son and kicked him and his family out of the vineyard.
We don’t own our reputation, our occupation, or our children. As Kingdom men and women, we are placed in these positions as stewards of Father’s House. The moment we start seeking to own something, whether it’s anointing, title, ministry, or our kids, the life is squeezed out and God’s Agape begins to dissipate. How do we know whether we are an owner or a steward? Just let God touch whatever we think we are stewarding. If the Lord gives it, He can take it.
- Describe the difference between an owner and a steward.
- In what ways have you experienced being an owner?
- What has God called you to steward? Can your stewardship be improved in any way?