But as wonderful as each of those eras has been, the church is now about to experience a time when it will be prepared to enter into the fullness of its destiny. The church is about to enter "the day of the steward." The individuals who have been called to fill these five offices mentioned above have had great gifts and talents, but many times they have lacked the character and integrity to bring the church to complete maturity.
These five offices are needed for the kingdom to advance and mature (i.e., the perfecting of the saints), but God is now adding the final ingredient, or gifting, to help those who hold these five offices--good stewardship.
Simply having a gift or an office does not make you a good steward. In the business world, a person can be a great doctor, but that does not make him a good businessman.
What many ministers have failed to do is to succeed at their success. Many leaders, when finally getting the resources needed to fulfill their mission, either fail to use them, or end up misusing them. They get caught up in building their kingdom, and not the kingdom.
The last several years have been the testing time to see who would prove to be good and faithful servants. The testing has been with money, people, time and vision:
What did the ministers do with the monies given them? Were they circulators or accumulators?
What did they do with people? Were they controllers or fathers?
What did they do with the time given them? Were prayer and study priorities or just novelties?
What did they do with the vision God gave them?
The testing of stewards. It is as if there were two groups, one on each side of a wall. One group was in green pastures, the other on hard ground.
The ones on the hard ground could see over the fence and watch the others frolicking, playing and enjoying themselves, while they were toiling like galley slaves. The ones on the green grass could see the ones on the hard ground, and it was easy for them to feel special and chosen and to look down without compassion on those who were toiling.
It seems like no matter how hard those on the hard ground labored, their fruit was limited and small, while the other group was living in the land of milk and honey, and everything they did was effortless; they seemed to have the Midas touch.
Each group was actually being tested not only to see what they would do with what they were given, but also to test their attitudes toward the other group.
The test for those on the hard ground was not to become bitter and jealous toward those laboring on the green pastures. Their test also involved laboring in faith and continuing to believe for the harvest to come, in spite of what they saw with their eyes. This group was much like Joseph's brothers, who became jealous of Jacob's favor on Joseph.
In this new millennium, the wall separating the two groups will be torn down in the same way the Berlin Wall was torn down. Each group will be judged for their stewardship and attitudes while laboring in their individual fields. Each will be judged by what they did with what they were given, just as in the parable of the talents. Some were given more, and some were given less, but all were judged alike.
Those passing the test will be greatly rewarded. Some from each group will have their talents taken away and given to those who were good stewards. Some from each group will increase, and some will decrease. It will not be an exchange of one group for another, but a rewarding of individuals in each group who did well in their stewardship.
Talents will be taken from the lazy and wicked and given to those who labored well. The wicked stewards who misused people and money for their own benefit and those who failed to keep the faith during the hour of trial will suddenly find themselves without.
In the simplest terms, a steward is someone who has oversight over another's goods. In the case of a minister, this generally means money, people and vision. Since these all belong to God, the question becomes: Did the minister use them for his benefit or for the benefit of the Master? Unfortunately, it is easy to benefit from one's position in the kingdom and yet fail to be that servant-leader Christ called His ministers to be.
Joseph, the exemplary steward. Joseph is the classic example of what a steward is supposed to be. Joseph's primary calling was that of a steward; his divine ability to interpret dreams was simply the gift that allowed him to reach his position of steward. In the New Testament, the gift of administration (see 1 Cor. 12:28) is a gift to help ministers become stewards.
C. Peter Wagner, in his manual of spiritual gifts, says the gift of administration is the gift of a pilot and a ship. The pilot is responsible for getting the ship safely to the destination determined by the owner. Jesus wants His church arriving safely at its destination and needs stewards to do so.
This gift is needed if the church is to fulfill the Great Commission. Joseph steered the ship (i.e., Egypt), and thereby provided not only for Pharaoh, but also for his family and the sons of Abraham. But long before Joseph found himself before Pharaoh, he had been found faithful in Potiphar's house and the prison.
Joseph's calling as a steward was tested before his elevation. Psalm 105:19 says the word of the Lord tested him. It proved him and purified him before he could become chief steward of Pharaoh's house. Many want the power and position of the Joseph anointing, but few will pass the test to become stewards.
A testing has been going on in the body of Christ for many years, and soon those have been found faithful will find themselves standing before great men holding great positions and power to fulfill the plan of God before Jesus returns. The day of the steward is about to unfold and usher the kingdom into the fullness Jesus foretold.