LCMS Stewardship Feature Story

Are You Listening?

Editor’s note: Monthly articles from LCMS Stewardship Ministry are hosted here on The Lutheran Witness site. Visit the “Ministry Features” page each month for additional stewardship content.

Steward leader, are you listening?

I am not asking if you are listening to what we have been sharing with you in these ministry features and our newsletter over the last decade. We have talked a great deal about what stewardship truly is in light of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. We have had much to say about how the individual person has been created in the image of God to reflect the will of God within creation. We have confessed that every steward in the deathly shadow of Genesis 3 has failed by attempting to idolatrously claim ownership of creation.

But I am not asking if you are listening to us. Instead, I am asking if you are listening to the people that the Lord has called you to lead as stewards of the Gospel in the ministry of Word and Sacrament.

Steward leader, are you listening?

Listening is a critical tool in any teaching, including the teaching of stewardship. You are called to a listening that seeks to determine where your people are coming from.

Communication expert Julian Treasure asks the question, “What is the listening that I am speaking into?” Whether you are a pastor standing before a congregation with whom you have a long, trusted relationship, or a district executive leading a Stewardship Commitment process in front of people with whom you have a limited connection, what matters most is that your hearers receive the truth of the Word of God.

This does not mean tailoring the message to scratch itching ears. Far from it. But listening to the people being led, taking into consideration their experience, is crucial to effective teaching. A steward leader that is listening to the people learns whether they have been well catechized in all matters of stewardship or whether they are hearing about stewardship in a non-institutional, non-manipulative way for the first time in a long time, if ever.

The steward leader that is listening to the people knows that effective teaching is not just an information dump. The steward leader is indeed the subject matter expert. But it is the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, who moves those created and redeemed stewards from where they find themselves at this moment to where they are called to be as redeemed stewards of the Gospel.  

Listening to your hearers helps you understand if they have been beaten and battered by a false theology of stewardship. Have they been told that all they need to do is give up one coffee or one night of pizza with the family to help balance the budget? This will impact how they hear the truth of God’s Word in stewardship. Have they been allowed to think that “every time there is a need in the congregation, we must be faithful stewards”? This will stop their ears to the truth of stewardship. Have they been conditioned to think that stewardship only applies to the work of the local congregation? This will hinder their understanding and practice of stewardship of the Gospel in mission.

If the teacher fails to listen, the truthful message of stewardship can be lost on deafened ears. But knowing the people to whom the steward leader is speaking can open new vistas of faithfulness in this critical area. Our ultimate stewardship is of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the steward leader is aware of “what listening they are speaking into,” the opportunity for repentance and joyful growth in stewardship is not only possible, but certain.

The listening steward leader is then able to connect what the steward is called to do directly to who they have been created and redeemed to be. Moving the stewards under our care in this way is the ultimate goal of the steward leader. It won’t be instant. It will happen over time. But when the steward leader is listening, it can and will happen. 

Steward leader, are you listening?

LCMS Stewardship ministry features may be reprinted with acknowledgment given to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

1 thought on “Are You Listening?”

  1. Perhaps someone can clarify:
    • What is a steward leader?
    • Why does the LCMS have them?
    • How do they become steward leaders?
    • What do they do?
    • Where do they do it?
    • How many are there?

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