Leaders are Servants and Stewards – 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul calls himself and Apollos “stewards” who have been entrusted with the most important thing imaginable, the “mysteries of God.” Like a fund manager, he is to protect God’s investment but also work to ensure a return on God’s investment.

Jesus, CEO


But as Gordon Fee points out, God seeks stewards who are faithful. They are not chosen due to their “not eloquence, nor wisdom (nor ‘initiative,’ nor ‘success’—our standard requirements).” Those who have been entrusted with the Gospel are to humbly servant the master and seek his glory and honor alone. The leaders of the Corinthian church are failing in just this regard, they are seeking their own honor rather than the one who has called them.

Paul and Apollos have been entrusted with the mysteries of God (4:1-2). A steward in this context is a servant entrusted with a task, a commission. Paul uses a slightly different word for servant in 4:1 than in 3:5 (ὑπηρέτης vs. διάκονος), but there is likely no difference in meaning. In both cases the servant is subordinate to a master and serves by doing the will of that master.

A steward (οἰκονόμος) is a manager or administrator. This could be a servant put in charge of a household (Joseph, for example, or the servants in Jesus parable in Luke 16). It can refer to a city official, such as a public treasurer, the word used to describe Erastus in Rom 16:23. An administrator is charged with a task (manage a city’s money, for example). In the LXX, the word translates Hebrew words of civil administrators (1 Kings 4:6, 16:9, Isa 36:3, 22, 37:2, etc., cf., eight occurrences in Josephus with the same sense).

The content of this deposit is the “mysteries of God.” Rather than a huge sum of money to invest and protect, Paul is a servant of God’s revelation. Mystery is typically something that must be revealed to be known, a secret hidden until the time is right. This is not something guess-able, but rather a revelation of something new and previous unknown.

In order to be a successful steward, they must be “found faithful.” If the steward is a money manager for a city, they have to protect the money entrusted to them and invest it in a way that returns a profit. Paul and Apollos are therefore accountable for their management of the mysteries of God. The preaching of the Gospel will naturally expand the body of Christ, and there are some strategies Paul might use to preach the Gospel in ways that are more likely to bear fruit. He goes first to the synagogue, for example, since that is where he will find people who already know the Scripture and may be looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, as well as some God-Fearing Gentiles who are interested in the Jewish God. When he was in Athens, he went to Mars Hill, a place where people enjoy discussing new ideas and debating philosophy. His goal was to go to the location where he would have the best chance getting an audience for the Gospel.

If Paul describes Apollos and himself as servants and stewards, then certainly the leaders of the church at Corinth are servants as well! Verse 6a Paul says that the things he has applied to himself and Apollos are applicable to all Christian leaders at every level, from a nursery worker to the long-time elder to the Lead pastor.

For Paul, the right attitude of a Church leader should be: “This is God’s church and I am just taking care of this for a while.”

What are some specific ways this servant-attitude can transform how the local church does ministry?

37 thoughts on “Leaders are Servants and Stewards – 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

  1. This is how all leaders should view being part of a church. It is not about what they can do or how well they can do it, but being a servant of God. God has trusted his people, the Church, to take care of his body of believers. We need to prove that we can do this and be faithful to what God has entrusted to us. (1 Cor. 4:2). If church leaders had this mindset of being servants and stewards the church would not be looked at as being hypocritical. We are to live contrary to what our culture says in order to show the light of Christ and be these servants. Paul even says some harsh things about his own ministry that pretty much show that he was a servant. “Paul characterizes his ministry as, among other things, foolish, weak, and dishonorable by cultural standards” (TTP 120). If we live the opposite of the way the world says we should live, then we are doing it right. We would be putting others above ourselves and not making everything about us and what we want, or we think is right. It is about what God wants and what God says is right. I completely agree with the last statement of this blog, “The proper attitude of a Church leader ought to be, ‘This is God’s church and I am just taking care of it for a while.'” This means we should take care of his Church in a way that God sees fit, otherwise we will just mess it up.

  2. I think church leaders and churchgoers in general would gain by learning that there is nothing about them that makes them special compared to other people in the church. Not to say that they are unimportant, but that they shouldn’t be “puffed up” above other people (1 Cor. 4:6). The next verse goes on: “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive?” (v. 7). I have nothing to brag about. Just because I was born in rural Michigan to a low-middle class family and not in the middle of the jungle doesn’t mean I am better than the person who was born there. This goes farther to say that the person serving beside me in my church-maybe he was born into a rich family-has no place above or below me because we are both doing work to minister the gospel or some other thing to people. The pretense in TTP that Corinth was extremely obsessed with honor and reputations (TTP, 117) would help to make this an even more intense thing that Paul was trying to show the Corinthians. They spent all this time building up a reputation and now they associate with lowly normal people. I can see how they might be having this problem.

  3. I feel like with today’s mega churches and media making certain pastors very popular, it can become very easy for pastors to become very proud and boastful. Those pastors can make a lot of money. When they become rich, I can’t but think that they have to be effected by this. Wouldn’t this make them feel like, “Oh, I did this. I brought these people to Christ. I am a great pastor.” They should be “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1). But if they start becoming rich, and “long to be rich, [they will] fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim 6:9). They would become like the “super-apostles” who “serve[d] only to enhance they own wain glory” rather than to “enhance to glory of God” (TTP 152). Not all people who are pastors of mega churches or who are in the media obviously think like this, but I believe there would be less tempted pastors to be boastful if they weren’t the hot-shots others make them out to be. They would be more likely to think, “This is God’s church and I am just taking care of this for a while,” like you concluded with.

  4. Servant-hood has become a very much behind the scenes thing in our churches today, and seems to be less sought after than in previous generations. People today may only see service as the pastors up front on the platform, or the worship team and Sunday school teachers, but as 1 Corinthians 4: 2 says, ” Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Everybody has some sort of gift that they can use to do service for the name of Christ. We limit ourselves to being “Christians” only while we’re at church. Many of my own gifts lay outside of things that would be found in the church. Being handy, creative, or hardworking can all be used to show service with the love of Christ outside of the walls of our church building. Longenecker in TTP says that in viewing 1 Corinthians 3:3 that the Corinthians were stuck being humanly minded in “various attachments to the leading personalities in the early Jesus movement” (Longenecker, 119). They were relying too much on their lead figures rather than on the gifts that God had given them.

  5. Should the church live out this mindset of “This is God’s church and I am just taking care of this for a while.” I think that we would be a lot better off. Many of the issues that have plagued the church have had to do with trivial things that should have never been an issue. This mindset of stewardship takes the pride issue out of it. It is not your ministry it is God’s. Paul explains the commendations are given by God (1 Cor 4:5). The opinion that matters most is God’s. This allows us to take our own pride and preferences out of decisions regarding our ministry and focus on what is best for the ministry. Paul’s argument was that God’s wisdom is better than human honor (120). God uses those things that don’t seem sufficient so that God may get the glory and that pride is void since it was God’s power that accomplishes things (1 Cor 1:27-29). There were issues that the church was following specific leaders like Paul and Apollos and the church was being divided over spiritual leaders (I Cor 1:11-13). Paul’s description of himself as a steward takes the attention off of him and points to Christ. So also in the church today we must view our ministry in this way. The number of people we reach does not matter if they are following our name rather than Christ. This should be a warning to church leaders to make a point to get the focus off of themselves and onto Christ.

  6. I find the statement from above, that “the proper attitude of a Church leader ought to be, ‘This is God’s church and I am just taking care of this for a while,'” to be very true. I believe that this most definitely should be the case of every church. We ought to all think this about church. We are to be servants and not be boastful. We should have an attitude such as what can we do to help, serve, and glorify God rather that what can I do for myself, how can I gain from this. I think that this would solve so many problems in our churches today as well as back then.

  7. A great way to think about this is the difference between a boss and a leader. The boss says ‘go over there and do that’, while the leader says, ‘lets do it!’. It also correlates to the parable of the ten talents. Just like the man was entrusted with something valuable, and was expected to invest it and hope it multiplied, so too was Paul and Apollos entrusted with the Gospel. They were servants in charge of their masters assets. To take a step back, check out 3:10-13. Paul talks about the “foundation” he laid. He said to be careful, because no other foundation (investment) can be made than that of Christ Jesus. And that when you are dead and gone, it is your work for Christ that will be remembered or forgotten. It will be tested by fire, and if it was pure, will remain. We are called to be good stewards of each and every thing in life. Money, time, and the Gospel. If we keep Christ the center, then it does not matter if I am remembered, but my work for Christ and the ones who heard the Gospel from my words and life. The necessity for Paul to say those things probably came form the Corinthians view of honor. However, it was “A gospel of the crucified Jesus that frees his followers from the endless quest for culturally defined honor…” (TTP, p. 118). It is not about being remembered forever, but a legacy of Christ bearing.

    • I like how you compared this to the difference between a boss and a good leader. In my own work experience, the best bosses were the ones who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, and who actually worked with their employees, as opposed to being distant and just ordering everyone around. I think that this is such an important thing for a church leader to realize. If a pastor just goes up on stage each week and gives sermon, and then walks off and isn’t seen by any church member till the next week, he will be a pretty ineffective pastor, because he is not truly investing into the lives of his congregation. A good church leader is someone who walks alongside the congregation, who is constantly present in their lives and gives up his own time to spend time with them and help them through the problems or trials they may be facing. It is through these interactions that a church can really grow in their faith, because they are able to learn by example. Also, it is important that the church leaders are not living hypocritical lives. If they are not living out the messages that they are preaching, than what reason does the congregation have to live by those same messages? A good church leader is one who spends time with the congregation, who is willing to help them deal with the many trials that they may be facing, and who lives out the messages that they preach.

  8. We (Christians) are all stewards of Christ. That’s obvious. But not all of us see it that way. Some of us don’t know what God’s plan is for our life. It’s hard to accept sometimes, but that’s OK. 1 Cor. 2:9 says, “…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” The past month or so at Elevate (college & career group @ Rush Creek Bible Church), we’ve been sharing our testimonies. Right now, I don’t know what God’s purpose is for my life. It upsets me sometimes, but it helps me trust God more. My best friend shared her testimony. She’s an artist & favors painting. She sometimes doesn’t like that God gave her this fantastic artistic ability. She doesn’t know why He gave it to her in the 1st place. No matter how hard she tried to avoid it, God kept pushing, & is continuing to push. We all have creativity that God wants us to use for His glory. It may not be the same creativity as my artistic friend. For some, it could be how you dress. For others, it could be through your technology skills. Don’t become like Cybermen in Dr. Who that have gone cold to creativity. The Doctor constantly argues for our worth & how creative we are, no matter who we are. We are made by THE Creator, in HIS image (Gen. 1:26 & 27), so therefore we must be creative. Adam had to be creative in coming up with names for all of the animals of the earth by himself! Talk about a tough job. Use your creativity for His glory & be stewards. You may not think that you have a great testimony, but you know Christ & His word that is THE truth.

  9. Throughout reading this blog post it has brought me to the remembrance that Jesus left us. His testimony and story lives within the pages of the word of God. We are called to use scripture as a tool to bring the good news of Jesus death and resurrection to the world we live in. The day and age we live in now is in transition in the church between old traditions and new. The word of God has always been alive and well but so much more now. God is trying to create more and more unity in the church so as Christians we will become more aware of the Holy spirit and His leading outside the church. For us to do that we need to fully surrender our whole selves, every part of us and with that seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33).
    Paul spoke to the Corinthians about the ways of leaders, servants and stewards of the church but that was just the beginning. The word spoken in 1 Corinthians 4 is becoming even more alive today. In church we need leaders who are willing to fully surrender themselves to Jesus if they have not already. The statement of, “This is God’s church and I am just taking care of this for a while” is so how we need to be looking at the church, but leaders in the church should be also. It is walking in the Spirit and taking each new day in ministry as if it’s the last. When leaders have the mindset that it is God’s church and where they are is temporary, it is humbling. They can then carry with them the sense of unity and the perspective that the church is not staying together because of them. The church is uniting because of their faithfulness in Christ and His leading of ministry through them in the physical. In Ephesians 4 it discusses the unity of the church and how God has called us worthy of the calling He has given. Not everyone is made for ministry or serving in the church. That does not make others any less in the calling Jesus has on their life. If we were all the same, then we wouldn’t reach all the areas of this world God has called us to.
    In Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul goes on to say that we should have humility, patience and gentleness with one another in love. In the church especially individuals can disagree and get upset with one another. We have got to pray against the flesh and the devil trying to use those tiny gritty comments to ruin relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ. At the end of the day we are all serving the same God. We should be eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in peace (Ephesians 4:3). We were called to Jesus and one Father through all. The church is God’s and he has called some of us to ministry and with that is walking in step with the Spirit to lead as God has called us to (Gal. 5:25).

  10. Having a servant’s attitude will definitely change the church for better. There are always jobs or tasks that people either forget about or groan about. It is an important lesson for people of any age to understand that whatever is entrusted to you is what you specifically have been picked for to help maintain and grow abundantly with the help of the Lord. We are to take honor in what opportunities God has so graciously handed over to us. Paul enforces the servant-attitude as a father-like figure for the church, speaking severely to them (Longenecker 120). Every aspect of ministry is beneficial to the Kingdom of God, and if He sees that you are faithful with what has been given to you, He will entrust you will even more than what was there before. If you misuse the gifts and callings God has given you, He’s not going to give you a way out by handing you a different gift because it is more important or easier, rather we are to steward and take care of what’s directly in front of us, just as 1 Corinthians 4:2 states. Having the church full of radical servants will lead to every square inch of ground being covered as they step into exactly what God has for them in that specific time period and for them specifically. It’s not for fame or for glory, but to give the honor and glory back to God, who rightfully deserves it all. Once it becomes not about the doer, but about the One who has created it all, there is no rankings in positions in the church, for we are one body, and each part functions differently. As 1 Corinthians 4:10 states, “we are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ.” No matter what a radical servant is doing, even if they look like a fool or insignificant, they are doing great things for the Kingdom of God. Radical change happens with radical servanthood and stewardship.

  11. P. Long, I like how you said “For Paul, the attitude of a Church leader should be, this is God’s Church, and I am just taking care of this for a while.” I like to think of people who work at chic-fil-a that say “my pleasure” whenever someone says thank you. It is way they express they are glad to serve their guests. They show up, do their duty, and it is their pleasure to serve. In 1 Corinthians 4:2 Paul says, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (ESV). Servants are going to be trustworthy to do their duty, especially within the Church. They are going to make sure the message will be preached, that teaching will be sound, that people will be greeted well, that everything will be locked and secured and that no money is stolen. This reminds me of Luke 16, “The Parable of the Dishonest Manager.” In Luke 16:10 it says, “One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is is also dishonest in much” (ESV). If the modern local Church were to have the attitude of “This is God’s Church and I am just taking of this for a while,” I think our ministry would be more effective in the way that it is not about ourselves and our glory, but to honor and bring glory to God, to please Him while we are only here for a while to be faithful as servants doing our duty that God has given us.

  12. Paul does not use the teacher-disciple language in his letter to the Corinthians because it would have implied several cultural connotations that Paul wanted to avoid. First, orators competed with one another for prestige and power (Long, 90). Paul did not want the Christians in Corinth to believe that he was competing with the other apostles for disciples. Second, disciples in the first century Greco-Roman culture were extremely dedicated to their teacher (Long, 90). This mindset may have been the cause of the divisions that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 1. The church was split over which apostle they attributed the most authority to. Instead, Paul describes himself as a servant (1 Corinthians 4:1). A servant does not seek glory or honor for themselves. This mindset changes how a church leader interacts with the congregation. The pastor does not make or break the church. I have heard of churches who hired a cool pastor who was very good at preaching so the church grew in numbers. But as soon as that pastor left, for whatever reason, the church slipped back down again. Rather, the church should be unified around one mission and the pastor is the guide and facilitator of that mission. A church leader should serve for the glory of God.

  13. P. Long’s blog post on servanthood and stewardship within Paul’s and Apollo’s ministry is reflecting how Jesus Christ himself is a servant, though out of all of humanity, Jesus was the one would could have rightly claimed kingship instead of servanthood. Two out of four of the gospel records show that Jesus came to serve others and not for Himself to be served (Mat. 20:28, Mark 10:45, John 13:13-16). As we see within P. Long’s blog and Paul’s letters, servanthood is so counter-cultural especially compared to those Christians within Corinth who seem to have difficulty transition from their pagan culture of self-honor to serving. Bruce Longenecker and Todd Still in their book Thinking Through Paul: A Survey of His Life, Letters, and Theology that Paul characterizes his ministry as foolish, weak, dependent upon God, and shameful by cultural standards (Longenecker, 120). Paul’s and Apollo’s ministries are merely considered those shameful things by cultural standards because of the honor-shame culture of Corinth, and the Roman empire as a whole, because it was not self-honor, they sought out but instead honor and spread of the Gospel. How servant-minded leadership might specifically change the way churches do ministry is perhaps each volunteer, congregational member, spiritual supporter, financial supporter, and payed staff member are content to serve in one’s own capacity. Not seeking to gain more authority or honor for their works, but instead recognizing no matter how you contribute to ministry, it is possible to humble serve in your unique way and glorifying God within that talent. Not desiring or focusing on self-honor through your contribution to ministry, but humbly doing your part so that God’s honor and glory may increase.

  14. I really connected with this post because I have recently entered into a leadership role in my church. I am the new nursery coordinator and it is something very new to me. I like how P. Long stated, “to be a successful steward, they must be found faithful.” A servant of the Lord needs to be faithful to God but they also need to be faithful to the people who look up to them and follow their example. Paul was devoted to the churches he visited he would constantly write letters to encourage and rebuke his churches in the ways of Christ. I have always looked at leadership as living as an example, and Paul mentions himself as that example in 1 Corinthians 11, “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (v. 1). Having more people in leadership roles within the church with a servant attitude can change the church in several ways. Having a steward as a leader can help encourage others to serve. By having someone to follow, people are more willing to serve. It can also improve the church atmosphere. I believe with servant-hearted people in leadership will create a more welcoming presence in a church. It will also help people connect to Christ in a more personal way. Seeing someone living their life fully for God can really affect whoever is around them. People will be able to find that connection and while serving in their ministry, serve out of a deeper love for Christ.

  15. God wants those who are faithful and loyal to others. Those who put others first in their lives and who are willing to give back to others. Paul and the Apostolls have put their faith in Stewards that are headed in the right direction in life. A leadership role that you must excel in. For example, my basketball team here at Grace,being a leader on and off the court espcially for the new guys. But not just doing it one day or even two but showing my consistency of my leadership qualities day in and day out. God knows that I am the one for the job and want to excel at just that. My coaches are making me a steward and my duties consist of leading the guys to act according the culuture here at Grace. But also making sure they are listening and maintaing their grades and soaking up everything they possibly can to succed on and off the court. If I was alive back when Paul was, he would make me a steward for sure. In life this is all God wants for us. This is all Paul wanted to see from his people as well. Just to be a faith first person and do what is right.

  16. Church leaders would definitely benefit from pursuing a servant-hood mindset like Paul’s. Looking at Paul’s ministry and his way of serving those he encountered should the level of commitment he had to being Gods steward. Paul always carried his faith in Christ into every city he traveled too and expressed it in a variety of ways. Ways that came through teaching, serving, and providing guidance for those who lost sight of the Lord (1 Corinthians 1-4). Never did Paul break character or lose his faith in God while actively living out his obligation as God’s steward. Having this obligation to take care of the church of God is how church leaders should consider their roles in the congregation. They are one of the most influential factors to a person’s faith in God and they must properly demonstrate how one is to uphold the title of a steward. As Longenecker states those who align themselves with Christ will engulf themselves with God’s power to transform people from service and free them from cultural codes (Long, 118). So if church leaders were to acknowledge Christ and his servant-hood qualities they would have a whole different outlook on how they approach their ministry. Being equipped with the qualities of Christ servant-hood can transform people in the church and bring them closer to God. Paul’s narrative is filled with success stories that were achieved through a servant hood mentality.

  17. A lot of times when people are serving their hearts are not in the right place. That means they are already off to a bad start. People who are in ministry have to be ready to serve with almost all of their being. There are no red carpets, constant affirmations, or consistent people that are grateful. Something servant leaders have to learn to adapt to is serving and seeking no reward from others afterward. For most people they would think that is easy, but when pride or humility gets involved then it can turn into a very hard task. Although people will not always affirm when someone is doing an honorable task we have to be okay with that. The right kind of attitude to have is that as long as God sees then it is okay. Everything should be done for and to His glory alone anyway. If someone is content with that, then in that moment anyone can tell their heart is in the right place when it comes to serving. When everyone is able to reach that point then serving in or outside of the church will become less hard in some ways. Because, people who serve while seeking personal gains are more likely to get burnt out. However, when someone is serving for God then they wear His armor that keeps them going. Another important factor is that people do notice when someone is genuine and when they are not. So, it is better for the ones to have good intentions to step in where needed.

  18. Servanthood and stewardship was a big part of Paul and Apollo’s ministry. They emphasize the importance of servant-leadership and display it very well. Paul was so faithful to the churches he would visit and write to. He was encouraging and building them up so they could live as better followers of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells the people of Corinth to follow his example as he follows the example of Christ. Jesus Christ was and is the best example of servanthood and stewardship. He wants us to follow his example and be faithful and loyal to others. As a Christian, I have the opportunity daily to act as a steward. I have the opportunity at work, at home, and at school. It is definitely not easy to be a steward all of the time. It is also hard work to be a servant. I do not think that Christ intended this course of action to be easy for us. He never promised an easy road for us and following Him requires sacrifice. It takes humility and grace to embrace a lifestyle like this. Paul was a great example of the strength it takes to be a servant for God. He followed Jesus with his whole heart and rejoiced in his suffering. On page 120, Longenecker says that Paul embraces the servant-attitude as a father-like figure (Longenecker, 120). He strived to be a steward of God and encouraged the people of Corinth to do the same.

  19. The aspect of Leaders that Paul preaches about in 1 Corinthians 4 1:5 is a lot different than what we see in our leaders today. The leaders today, mainly looking at those in political power as we speak, often do not come even close to having the servant leader persona that Paul talks about. Today, we often see that our political leaders come from wealthier families that give them the greatest chance of success by allowing them to pursue politics at the wealthiest of schools. Paul’s definition of a leader is quite contrasting to what we deem “leadership” today because the leader Paul speaks of is a person that isn’t chosen based on their wealth, success, or even the gain of political status. Rather, a person that is a leader is chosen by their faithfulness in God’s plain for their life – these leaders are trustworthy, reliable, and do not seek the approval of anyone but God himself (Phil Long). In my experience of being an athlete, I have come across all types of “leaders” that have been given a captaincy role by the coaching staff. My experience has allowed me to distinguish between what a good leader looks like and what a bad leader looks like. A bad leader is more concerned with their individual performance and does not have too much interest in the team. A good leader is someone who will sacrifice themselves for others – i.e., a servant or steward – and has it in their heart that the good of the whole group is more important than the individual player. I think when Paul looks at the way God wants to lead, he is often seeing the church as a team. This does not mean the individual church but all churches working together for the common goal of spreading the gospel through many different means. Paul describes his work as being “servants of Christ and those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed” in which he further explains that those who are entrusted with the gifts must be servants to people regardless of what others think of them (1 Cor. 4:1-5).

  20. This is so raw from Paul. He just simply boils down the word steward. I always hear this phrase said if you can be trusted with a little bit you can be trusted with a lot. God wants people that are going to be faithful stewards to watch over his things. It’s talked about here but also in other places as well, but watching over money is so important. Being entrusted with wealth not only someone elses wealth but your own. This takes a very faithful steward to do. The question that you propose at the end about it being God’s church and we are just taking care of it. I think about that question and then I think about how everything is God’s so yes the church is very important because disciplinng people and leading people towards God is very important, but everything was created by God so we were entrusted with all of the things he created as well. Back to the question about the servant attitude in church. Some specific ways that the chuch could be transformed is just people being themselves and being real. Not ever trying to put on a mask or act a certain way just to look a certain way. According to (Longnecker 2014) “ if Christians seek compensation for perceived wrongs done by other Christians, they are in danger of compromsing the missionary witness of christian communities’’(p.121). Paul just adds this and it is good and another reason we need to be real and raw with other believers.

  21. God is one that wants His stewards to be faithful and loyal to everyone. A lot of the time the people who are serving today do not have their hearts in the place they need to be and that is the opposite of what God wanted. When we are serving people, you are a steward to them and must show to them that you are a follower of Christ. When you are in a serving role you need to put everything, you have into that position because everyone around you is depending on you. You must be ready to give everything that you have, and it will be tough because you will not get the affirmations that you deserve. Within the church I like what you said in the last couple of lines which said, “This is God’s church and I am just taking care of this for a while”. This stood out to me because they have been called to serve God and take care of the things that He has set forth in front of them. They are serving the community around them in the way that God had intended for their lives until God shows them the next step in their life. Servants are going to be trustworthy in their duty which is why Paul and Apollo’s ministry will reflect that of how Jesus did His ministry, serving and trustworthy.

  22. After reading this blog post I think it is very beneficial to understand why we are here and what God’s purpose is for us. Now I understand that is a very profound thing to understand completely but I feel that there are little things that we can learn about ourselves and our actions in order to understand this purpose. In this passage, Paul talks about stewards and what the true nature of apostleship should look like. Nowadays many people believe that they will only be able to serve others after they have first served themselves, meaning that if they had that extra money for them to spend on themselves then they would be able to help others out but that is not what Paul is preaching here. Paul is saying that these stewards are chosen by their social status or success in other areas of life but rather those who seek God’s glory instead of their own. When we begin to get caught up with the things of the world, we end up seeking our own honor rather than the honor of God who gave us a chance here on this world. “A servant is subordinate to a master and serves by doing the will of that master (Long)”. Although we usually think of God as our father, he is inevitably our master, who has put us here in order to fulfill His purpose through us. Now you may not know what that is, but you can figure out what your strengths are and express it through that. Paul understood what his strengths were and used those in order to grow the Body of Christ and found that preaching these different ways reached out to people differently, but by the end of the day he was preaching the Gospel. We must find our own strengths and own areas around us that allow us to have the best chance at making an impact on those around us and that starts by following what God is calling us to do in order to fulfill His purpose for us.

  23. When Paul was doing ministry I’m sure it was hard to sift out the individuals who had a “serve all” attitude without complaining about it. There were very few who would step up and offer themselves in the body for this position. In this blog Long mentions “In order to be a successful steward, they must be ‘found faithful’”. I took this as if one is given a responsibility of being a steward that they must show growth within that line of work that people can see; thus proving that they are being faithful and pouring out. Throughout the years the early church began to adopt a more servant like attitude, and individuals were even getting excited about the growth that was coming fourth because of it.

    Unfortunately in the more recent years the desire to serve in the Church has dwindled down, and seems as though almost every week the pastor is begging for volunteers at the pulpit because ministries soon won’t be able to function. I am not sure as to why the want to serve others has gone away; as believers we are called to serve Christ and serve in the community (help others). I feel as though if this servant-attitude was adopted into the local church ministry it will allow others to grow in new places and discover a calling they weren’t aware of beforehand.

  24. I really liked the way this blog post was thought out. I have heard sermons on this passage, and many confused me as to what a steward was and what their “job” was. Using it in reference to money and serving helped me understand.

    Like P. Long points out, Paul is a servant of God’s revelation. In order to be successful in the task or duty before him, Paul must “humbly servant the master and seek his glory and honor alone”. If not for this command, you are disobeying the will of God and this is what the church in Corinth were doing. In a way this is what many Christians do today, whether consciously or subconsciously, we tend to see the glory or acceptance of others in our lives instead of being assured by God’s. We should never serve to get something out of it, like the saying ‘do something good and something good will be done to you”, we should serve because God alone has called us to. Many times when people serve, they are not doing it for the right reasons, and it shows. You must get your heart right before you can serve others and be successful at it. Along those same lines, you must put your faith in God and believe in his calling in order to effectively serve him and spread the fruits of His spirit. As a leader, no matter the extent of the role, if you are doing it for the wrong reasons or without a genuine heart, those you are leading will notice and begin to breakaway from your leadership.

  25. Long stated in his blog post, “in order be to a successful steward, they must be found faithful.” Matthew 25:23 also states that we must be good stewards of small things so that we can be good stewards of big things. The local church can transform their ministries with servant attitudes by taking care of smaller things which tend to lead into bigger things. According to Long, “steward is a manager or administrator.” Being a manager means to lead by example, living out what you are called to do. It is also taking care of something, and making it better than what it was. As a Christian it is important to be a servant of Jesus Christ and serve well. 1 Peter 2:16 states, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” Believers in Jesus Christ are supposed to be faithful to Jesus. We are free from sin and the bondage to sin. We should be living as Christ calls us to live. We can start by being good stewards and take care of the things that God gives to us. We can transform the church by serving the way that God calls us too. For example, by loving others and helping them through difficult hardships. By being a servant of Jesus Christ, we are being good stewards of what we have. Even if it is little or a lot, it is important that we take care of what God has given to us because He is the one giving it to us.

  26. This blog post is an interesting topic. When I was young, I heard sermons and the scripture of the steward, but I did not know what it is until I read the blog about it which all make sense. Instead of the word “steward” I would say helper or those who serve. I now know that the steward is entrusted with things that are most important. From the blog post, the part about God seeks steward who are faithful, I kinda wonder, that if God sees the person is faithful then does one of the church leaders will notice and pick one the people that they can be trusted, or the person will go to the leaders and asked if they want to volunteer to be a steward? Reading about the leaders of the Corinthian church failed and doing their own as a self-righteous service instead being a true person to serve the Lord. Long mentions “In order to be a successful steward, they must be “found faithful.” I think those who were chosen to be a steward, have the responsibility to be trusted. Those who are steward, think they are falling apart or are about to commit a sin then they should have the right to speak up. Today, in churches we still have stewards to be trusted the more they work hard to stay faithful to the Lord and will open the doors to the stewards if they want to be a leader of the church or, maybe, a lead pastor.

  27. In 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 we are encouraged by Paul that we should be servants of Christ. This servant attitude is the example given to us by Christ. We are told that as we lead, we should lead with a servant’s heart. The servant’s attitude can transform how the church does ministry by living out the example that Christ has set for us. We read in 1 Corinthians 4:5 “who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart” (1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV). The servant’s heart is one that should be pure in motive and for the kingdom of heaven. The Lord discloses the purpose of the heart. The motive of serving will be brought to light by the Lord, this is example of a proper heart is contagious among the church. This example of a servant-attitude transforms the local church into creating a culture that serves others with true intent. When this culture is created with a purposeful heart the effects are unimaginable. You have people putting others above themselves in a Christ like matter. This builds a foundation for the local church that allows servants to serve and make an impact on the lives of the local church and others. “For Paul, the right attitude of a Church leader should be: “This is God’s church and I am just taking care of this for a while” (Long,2019). Paul tells us how he views his position in the church. We are called to do the same as leaders in the church.

  28. The thing that really stood out to me was how it was stated that God doesn’t select His stewards based off of our standards and requirements. By our human standards we usually entrust certain responsibility to those who are experienced and have previously been equipped to get the job done. Those who have a certain skill set, either based on prior experience or natural talent. God doesn’t go based off of our standards. God does not always call those who are pre-equipped to do the job, but he equips those whom he has called (Hebrews 13:20-21). Longenecker hints at the importance of being good stewards of what the Lord has entrusted to us. Whether it is our finances or the responsibility of sharing the gospel with others. These are things that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Like it says in Luke 16:10, we must first be faithful in the smaller responsibilities before we can be trusted with the larger ones. In 1 Corinthians it also talks about how it is required that stewards be found faithful. Faithful in the sense that they can be trusted with responsibility but those who have a reputation of integrity. As Christians God has entrusted us with various responsibilities. He has also bestowed numerous blessings upon us, it is now our responsibility to be good stewards.

  29. I think if church leaders were able to have this mindset it would allow for more growth in the church. I think some churches are trying to make sure they look good, that they are the church to go to when really that should not be the goal. Yes, you want people to come to your church but are you doing your ministry for the right reasons? Does the church have the mindset to serve God? I think often in ministry we are judgmental of how others run and do things that may be different than done before or how you think something should be done. We must remember that we are here to serve the Lord and He is the one who will judge us if we are wrong (1 Cor 4:4). We may not like the way that someone runs the ministry or an event at the church but if they are not doing anything that is against the Word of God then why should we judge them? We are here on this earth to serve the Lord and be faithful and if we had that attitude we could probably allow the church to naturally grow. If we stop judging and criticizing how one does something we will allow in the growth from the Lord and allow for the church to flourish when we can work together as one body.

  30. I found Gordon Fee’s view on how God looks for stewards who are faithful rather than those who have extensive wisdom. This reminded me of something I learned in my Introduction to Youth Ministry class. When I took the class, Dr. Carroll told the class that “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.” It can be easy to fall into a trap where you think you are not worthy enough to be a steward of God because you do not have as much wisdom as others, or you are not the strongest in your faith. The reality is that God knows all of this when He looks for stewards. It is not for Christians to decide who is worthy enough and who is not, only God has that ability. The amount of wisdom one has does not determine their ability to be a steward of God.

    It is made clear in 1 Corinthians 4:2 that stewards must be found faithful above all else. Since a steward must be faithful, an unspoken implication here is that stewards of God must demonstrate the Fruits of the Spirit. In other words, a steward must not be hot-headed, violent. or dishonest (Titus 1:7). Being a steward of God comes with great responsibility and it should change the way we live. Christians are given the responsibility of living for God and for spreading the gospel. This means that Christians should live in a way that pleases God, meaning Christians should use their life to bring glory to God. When stewards of God live their life to honor God not only will it change the way they live, but it changes how they view others and the world. That is when the real change in the local church and society begins.

  31. To start, we are all servants of God. “As servants of God and those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed” (1 Cor 4:1) is what Paul is explaining here. No one is higher than anyone else, and as a result, we should all be humbling ourselves before the Lord, not by trying to show each other up in other ways (for example, how much money one has in the church, and boasting of it to others). We have been clearly called to reveal said mystery. What Jesus Christ has said and done for us is certainly not something that we should squander. Even, however if we do not have the abilities to go out and proclaim the gospel, we should still find the possibility to do so in different acts of worship, or by giving here.
    Paul here is trying to explain that we are called to do the work of the Lord, to be humble, as well as to otherwise follow along with what Jesus has told us to do as set down in the Gospel. For us nowadays, we should make sure that while we also follow the teachings set down in the Bible, but for us to also see how we can be leaders in the church setting as well.

  32. Within this post, Dr. Long (2019) argues against a perennial issue concerning the church and its view on money and political status. Leaders, contrary to contemporary culture, are consecrated by God to serve others and place their needs, desires, and worship above their own. Too often, the modern church’s eyes are veiled by monetary prospects – and perhaps fittingly so, since any administration needs a financial base to operate – instead of centering on that treasure that currently surrounds them, the treasure of Christ. In stark contrast to Jesus’s decree that Christians should evince the “light of the world,” the “salt of the earth,” Paul characterizes his ministry “like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things” (1 Corinthians 4:13 ESV). Perhaps there’s an exigent reminder behind the rubble of a seemingly self-defeating argument that denigrates the cultural standards of ministry (Longenecker & Still, 2014, p. 120). The verbal slew Paul tosses toward the way of the “super-apostles,” for instance, in 2 Corinthians 10 demonstrates a reversal, similar to Christ, of cultural norms. Since approved individuals come instituted by God, not boastful of their own achievements or rhetorical influence, they find fulfillment in Him alone. Within the class notes, Dr. Long (2023) regards the skills of oration as emphasizing an attractive build, a disposition that reflects a disciple’s teacher, and an athletic body (p. 90). Often, power was the name of the game, and sophists regularly employed disciples. In contrast, Paul never once claims disciples, downplays his speaking skills and appearance, and elucidates the meaning of a brother-sister relationship as a central tenet of the church (Long, 2023, p. 91).

    Keenly, servanthood in the modern age occasionally becomes muddied by a believer’s desire to apply verses of conduct too literally. By focusing on the locus of physical mannerisms, the church body overlooks the integral call of Philippians 1:27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” The vices of the world, although not always striking at the heel, seek to erase godly institutions, especially churches, by reorienting stewards and servants from the mysteries of God. Paul does not desire praise for philosophy, and neither does he wish the same for Apollos, Peter, or anyone else (Longenecker & Still, 2014, p. 120). Rather than detailing accomplishments, Christians should make an express note of their godly functions (Long, 2023, p. 91).

  33. Have you ever met a pastor, leader, or public figure that is so self-focused and prideful? Usually, with such leaders, it is hard to listen to what they have to say or even look up to them. On the flip side, have you ever met someone that just overflows with kindness and a passion for serving? The best leader that showed humanity how to be a servant-leader, was Jesus himself. In the Old Testament, we see that God is someone who is mighty, powerful, and holy (Psalm 147:5, Zephaniah 3:17, Leviticus 11:44). But in the New Testament, we see that when Jesus came to earth as a man, he was humble and lowered himself to serve others (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:7). Therefore, because Jesus is the example, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 that there were certain leaders in Corinth that were the stewards or servants for God. In our culture today, we have a different understanding of what it means to be a servant, but in early church history, this word “steward” meant someone who was loyal to the one they serve, doing their best at their tasks, whether that was keeping the money or managing the household. We see in Genesis 39:4-5, Joseph was the steward in Potiphar’s household. This position wasn’t a lowly position, but it wasn’t the position of the master. In the passage in 1 Corinthians, Paul lists what a steward of God’s church should look like, a leader who is faithful and honorable before God and the church. A man that the church can look up to and trust because he puts his trust in God, his master.

  34. A servant attitude places a strong emphasis on identifying and meeting the needs of the congregation and the surrounding community. This means actively listening to the concerns and struggles of individuals and tailoring ministry efforts to address those needs. Servant leaders empower and equip members of the congregation to use their gifts and talents for ministry. This involves identifying and nurturing the unique abilities of individuals and providing opportunities for them to serve effectively. Church leaders need to model servant leadership by prioritizing the needs and well-being of the congregation over personal agendas or ambitions. They have to lead with humility and a willingness to serve rather than seeking positions of authority for their own benefit. Leaders and members who embrace a servant attitude set an example for others to follow. This creates a culture of service within the church, where serving others becomes a norm rather than an exception.

  35. I believe if everyone working in the local church today understood this, there would be much less confusion from church leaders. Unfortunately, there are some mega churches that do not quite get this idea. When leaders of churches, with a huge amount of influence over a big group of people, miss this idea, they tend to lead this entire group astray from God. Then they are focused on false ideologies like that of the health and wealth gospel. These leaders, like those of the Corinthian church at the time, are doing it for selfish gain, which is wrong. They completely miss the fact that God has called us to a higher calling than ourselves, to serve Him selflessly no matter how much influence we have been given. I have first-hand experience from a local church that rejected me and my family for wanting to transfer churches. We were in the process of a big transformation, and the church, after hearing that we were planning on attending a different church said, “you won’t find what we have here anywhere else.” This made me feel extremely discouraged, but after reading this passage, I understand that even I myself have been given the responsibility to lead a Christlike example for others. That requires a great amount of self-discipline and focus. I get motivation from this call to excellence. While I may not be on stage preaching, or on the front lines of a mission outreach organization, I can take this calling to live a godly example of leadership in my spheres of influence. I am a senior this year at Grace, and this passage has encouraged me to get more involved in the lives of my friends and personally lead a Christlike example that attracts them to follow Him more. 

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