Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest

by Peter Block. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1996.

Congregational leaders might expect a book entitled 'Stewardship' to focus on fundraising and financial pledging. This book, however, defines “stewardship” as a choice “to preside over the orderly distribution of power” so that partnership replaces dominance and accountability replaces dependency. Grounded in the view that each of us longs to invest energy in things that matter, 'Stewardship' calls us to move beyond self interest and make service the centerpiece of our corporate lives. Central to such a move is the understanding that resources, authority, and responsibility must reside closest to those on the “front lines,” those who are doing the core work. These are the people who must be involved in defining and shaping the vision, mission, and strategic planning of an organization. Author Peter Block outlines key steps toward stewardship-based organizational transformation. Later in the book, he refers readers not only to relevant publications, but also to persons and organizations that have adopted the stewardship paradigm. Although not addressed to congregations, the principles and models presented in 'Stewardship' present compelling challenges for church and synagogue leaders and boards as they grapple with questions of purpose, control, mission, planning, and responsibility.