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To the Steward Leader—are you a good steward of yourself?

Summer preparations for development

I have been working with nonprofit ministries for 35 years. In the past 4-5 years I have done more soul searching and self-examination than the previous 30 years combined. I guess we get that way as we get older. But in addition to age I had to ask myself: Am I a good steward of myself?

How do we steward ourselves as leaders? Are we being as good a steward of ourselves as we tell all our co-workers and donors to be?  Here are a few ideas and issues I have faced during my journey. I offer them for your consideration, and they are not in any priority. I am trusting you with my self-examination, not for your agreement, but maybe for your self-awareness.

1. Physical Health

After traveling over 2 million flying miles in 22 years, not including the international flights back in my Continental Singers days, I can honestly say that flying has lost its glamour for me. (Stronger words would not be appropriate for this blog.) It is a pain, I do not like it, and I do not want to do it anymore. I remember when I started flying when I began my consulting firm. I was getting upgraded, I was in the flying clubs, and it was cool. I remember seeing guys on airplanes that were older (the age I am now) and were burned out, anxious, and frustrated with everything that went wrong while flying. I thought, they should quit flying if it is that bad.

Well, it got that bad for me. How about you? Are you traveling too much? Are you seeing signs of bad health? Are you eating right when you travel? (Very hard to do.) Are you a good steward of your temple?

2. Mental Health

OK, here we go. After 22 years of sleeping alone in hotel rooms, rental cars, and meals alone, I became lonely and lost. My mental health deteriorated into dealing with depression and anger.

How about you? Depression is one of the most prevalent issues facing people/leaders today. Have you ignored the warning signs? Have you thought, "That could never happen to me?" As a steward, you can be honest with yourself and ask the tough questions. Having a problem with anger and depression will not end your ministry, but ignoring it might.

3. Spiritual Formation Pulse

Even though I was involved in ministry every day, I was no longer close to God. I did not know him like I used to. And Satan was attacking me on every front. God led me to Soulformation, and now I am on a journey of drawing close to God through spiritual formation. I am amazed how God has revealed to me how abiding in Him is more important than achieving for him.

What about you? Are you still close to God? Are you finding your relationship with him vibrant and growing? Or is that just what you preach or teach. Check your spiritual formation pulse. Know how you are stewarding your spiritual heart.

4. Leadership Pulse

My Leadership pulse was barely beating. I felt lost as a leader. I had nothing left to give. And my thoughts, consulting, and teaching lost its energy and focus. Right now I cannot read a leadership book or listen to a leadership speaker. I am more concerned with becoming a better follower. I was nearly a leadership casualty, but am hanging in there by a thread.

I heard that in a current 10-year period, 70% of Boomer leaders will leave their ministry. Are you one of those? Is your leadership pulse beating? Or are you just hanging in there.

5. Follower Pulse

My Follower Pulse needed CPR and electric shock treatment as there was nothing there. I could not listen or follow anyone. I stepped away from all conferences and teaching opportunities. And my local church did not fill up my gas tank.

What about you? Are you still a good follower? Can you still follow and learn? Can you take something that has been shared with you and apply to your life?

6. Pride Meter

Here’s the painful one. As a steward of myself, and as bad as I felt about myself, I had to look at my Pride Meter. A great friend of mine, Leon N, told me: "John, you have a passion to help people and ministries, but when you think you are the ONLY consultant who can help people and ministries, you meter goes from PASSION TO PRIDE!" His words struck my heart. I thought way too highly of myself, my knowledge, and my abilities. I was convicted of a prideful heart and some wrong thinking about what scripture says about where my talents and success comes from.

What about you? Pride is that one thing that we want to control, and yet we need confidence as a steward leader to be in our leadership positions. A steward leader must be aware of their pride meter. Because even if you do not, others are measuring your pride!

7. Steward Leader Meter

So I have shared my heart and soul with you. Why? What will it accomplish? I guess this blog is a part of my journey, not necessarily yours. But maybe, just maybe, one of these points will stir your spirit. Maybe you will hear that still small voice, (that you haven’t heard in a few years) that says, "Listen to me. I want you, not all that you do and accomplish, but you."

Check your Steward Leader Meter and see if you are "red lining" it. And then check to see if your other measurements are red lining, like mine were. If so, then STOP, and do a Steward Leader Meter Reading! See what all of your personal measurements are saying.

 A steward is managing something on behalf of the owner. Who is your owner, and how are you managing yourself on his behalf? How are you stewarding yourself? These are tough questions, but they need answering. I wish you the best with your answers. I have plenty of work to do with mine.

Have a great summer!