Dr. Glenn Miller, host of the Leadership and the Church podcast, and CEO of Miller Management, is joined by his colleague Dr. Jeren Rowell, President and Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Nazarene Theological Seminary.
This month’s topic is a deep dive into “How to Balance Faith with Stewardship.” Our first episode in the series was defining both Faith and Stewardship. Part 2 was an interview of a school going from in-debt to building a new campus. Today, we get to hear about another example of that balance played out.
Backstory of Faith
When asked how are faith and stewardship connected? Our guest answers that they are essentially and integrally related – connected in essence – that each one informs the other. Our faith lives centered in who we are, even if we don’t always live it out.
Then the host asks if we should ask God to bail us out when we experience financial deficits year after year? The guest answers with a personal story of how we should pray for healing, but there is also action on our part – making good decisions.
Dr. Jeren Rowell, President of NTS, stepped into a space he knew with people he knew several years ago; knowing that hard decisions were coming. He was going to have to make decisions that not everyone may understand or agree with. Decisions that would potentially have an impact on those friendships.
Note to Pastors: How do you rationalize with those hard decisions that you inevitably are going to have to make?
Jeren’s advice was in his story. He tried to be as forthcoming and communicate as rationally as possible with people, so the direction didn’t seem to be coming out of nowhere. “I could have the clearest rational in the world as the leader, but if I don’t communicate that rational adequately, it’s not going to be appreciated or understood.” – Dr. Jeren Rowell, Nazarene Theological Seminary
From the start at his new position at NTS, Dr. Rowell came from a place of peace and confidence in navigating with a team “when there is a sense of team, collaboration, and communication, that’s a much stronger position to do this.” Rooted in the significance of the mission of the organization.
Glenn noted that once the faith side is settled, there is a sense of resolve. And Jeren agreed that, “The peace of God that comes in the midst of saying I know what we are trying to do and God has assured me that he is going to help us in that purpose.” And let the things go that are out of our control anyway.
How to release and share that burden of leadership?
When asked about how to share that load, our guest answered with these two words: Prayer Partners. Gather a small team of people that will pray for you, your organization, the direction, and the mission of the ministry. Then watch for God’s provision from those prayers that were offered up on your behalf.
“Faith without stewardship is not wholistic.” – Glenn Miller, Miller Management
Once these tough decisions were made, communicated, and implemented, the result was an increase in enrollment and a reduction costs at the same time. Not something that is easy to do by any means, but there is a five-year track record of just that happening to this seminary.
In order to make those decisions successful, there had to be a shared vision, collaboration, trust level, and communication of the cabinet at NTS. “What has God called us to be and to do here? And how do we accomplish that?” Those were the questions that Jeren and the rest of the cabinet had to wrestle with.
Even when you have to make hard decisions, God gives you the grace to navigate through those things. Even those things that have potential to cause damage; all those pieces together – communication, faith, group by in – can result in a positive change.
Our host asked, “Has your faith increased by addressing this faith and stewardship combination over the last five years?” And our guest responded with a “no doubt about it” response. Also noting that “At the end of your own capacity is when you begin to recognize God’s limitless capacity.” Through collaboration with God’s people.
Lessons of Leadership
From our guest, Dr. Jeren Rowell of the Nazarene Theological Seminary:
- Get the questions in the right order. Who are we to be? Then, what are we to do?
- Note for struggling organizations: every church has every resource needed to be faithful to whoever God is asking you to be right now. You lack nothing.
- Leadership confidence and effectiveness will never rise above a leaders own experience.
If you are experiencing anxiety, uncertainty, or a power struggle in your leadership, maybe you are trying to do too much on your own. The resources to lead well – not out of fear or anxiety – are found completely in our relationship to God.
Special thanks to our guest, Dr. Jeren Rowell, and our master of all things podcasting, Chris Miller, for this third episode in the Balancing Faith and Stewardship series.