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A Stewardship Mentality

October 15, 2019

It’s never fun to admit you’re wrong.

As a speaker, author, and leader in my business, it’s even tougher to have to backtrack on something I’ve communicated publicly. I’m constantly sharing new ideas and throwing leadership concepts out there, and there will be times I share something that needs clarifying or a test for complete accuracy. It might even be that something I felt passionate about in one season doesn’t prove to be as helpful in the next.

Recently, this happened in our business. Now I’m working to help our team shift from a perspective that I used to encourage. 

For the last couple of years, I’ve challenged our team members at ADDO to think like owners. Looking through the lens of an owner, what is the best decision to make? If you owned this place, how would you do it? How would you serve the customer more effectively? Would you give this refund or not? How would you balance your priorities? 

I believed that looking through the lens of an owner to make important business decisions would be clarifying for each individual on our team. I knew the pride of ownership changes the way that people treat things, so I wanted us to embrace this in our business. 

I’m not saying an ownership mentality is bad, but my perspective has shifted for two reasons:

1. Feedback from our team: I have been fortunate to have team members give honest feedback and say, “You tell me to think like an owner, but I’m not an owner. I can try to think that way, but it’s tough to think in a way that’s contrary to reality.” And they’re right. It’s kind of like saying, “Think like a teacher,” or “think like a pastor.” We can try, but if we haven’t been in those shoes, it’s tough to think accurately along those lines.

2. Personal pressure: If you are an owner, and you’re always thinking like an owner—you could be stressed by the pressure that comes along with it. During a tumultuous time in our business, I remember sitting at our company Christmas party, watching our team members, many of them with their spouses, and feeling a tremendous weight of responsibility. I vividly recall thinking, “There are people in this room whose families’ livelihood depend on me making the right decision.” It’s good for us to feel responsible for our decisions, but if we are always thinking through this lens, we will be overwhelmed, and it could cripple our ability to make bold decisions.

So I am asking our team to shift from an ownership mentality to a stewardship mentality.

Processing this shift in perspective reminded me of a story in Scripture called the Parable of the Talents. In this parable, three individuals were each entrusted with different amounts of money (talents). They did not own the talents, but they were each responsible for how they stewarded them. The owner in the story is a picture of God, and the people entrusted with the talents are pictures of you and me. 

For me personally, this truth is a weight off my shoulders. According to some legal documents and the IRS, I own part of ADDO. But at the end of the day, God owns all of it—and it’s my job to steward the people, the relationships, the products, the opportunities, and the business to the best of my ability. And guess what? The people on my team are called to do the exact same thing. We may not all have legal ownership, but we are all responsible to be good stewards of the work we’ve been given to do.

Instead of thinking like an owner, work to be a faithful steward. For the owner, this is freeing. For the employee, it’s clarifying.

Each of us has been entrusted with a job, a role, or a responsibility, and we are called to steward it well.

You might be a parent taking care of children, a coach pouring into young people, a volunteer doing work that no one ever sees—whatever it is you’re doing, remember that you’re a steward. Looking through this lens is a great reminder to be faithful in what has been entrusted to us.


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