Using Stewardship as a Blueprint for Sustaining Christian Tertiary Institutions

Term Paper, 2018

13 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of Contents


Christian tertiary institutions

Stewardship Background

Christian Stewardship

Stewardship Foundation

Accountability among the Christian Tertiary Institutions

Stewardship theory of leadership and governance




The quest for excellence, growth, and sustainability in Christian tertiary institutions is intrinsically interwoven with the institutional mission and social justice. The urgency of the quest has escalated as the United States of America strives to educate its citizens to work, live, and contribute in a constantly changing global context. Thus, the Christian tertiary institutions, accommodating a diverse student population, sustainability require success in engaging, attracting and retaining diverse donors, faculty, and staff. Consequently, the significance of institutional leadership in developing a sustainable commitment to tertiary education is recognized. As the demands for Christian education systems have increased, student motivation and new methods of achieving student academic outcomes continue to be increasingly elusive. Research has, however found that improved academic outcomes can be attained through effective school leadership which attends to the needs of the tertiary institutions. The studies have found that creative, visionary, knowledgeable, and inspiring educational leaders are critical to the building and fostering of a positive institutional environment to help attain the education goals and the sustainability of the institutions beyond the twenty-first century. Consequently, the leaders and sponsors must display the stewardship tenets as a practical operational approach to the management and sustainability of the institutions. The aim of this research is to discuss the financial and material stewardship for sustaining Christian Tertiary institutions.

Christian tertiary institutions

Most Christian tertiary institutions do not have significant endowment and depend heavily on the fees paid by the students in order to fund their programs. The situation is acerbated by the fact that these institutions do not have a mission to make money or dominating the market. The institutions mandate and mission is to offer a distinctly Christian education to the students. The institutions, however, make some attempts to make a little profit to secure the future growth although financial gain is not the primary bottom line. The institutions overriding objectives are less clear since they only seek to accomplish the mission (Bosselmann et al. 2008). Some scholars have advanced the theory that Christian tertiary institution role in the society is to offer a public service (Ornstein et al. 2010). The scholars, however, admit that some institutions do make some profit although the majority concentrate on providing Christian based education to the community. Most tertiary institutions operate on a break-even basis, and their finances are raised on a voluntary basis (Bosselmann et al. 2008). Therefore, the mix of the programs they offer and the fees they charge are different from the one charged by government sponsored tertiary institutions. The steward leaders in the Christian tertiary institution have to cross-subsidization in order to achieve their objectives.

Stewardship Background

A biblical basis for Christian stewardship must start with the affirmation that the Lord God is sovereign and He exercises divine ownership over all matters. Stewardship is practiced at a personal level and cooperatively by the church. The primary responsibilities of the church are first to proclaim and worship God, secondly, to evangelize the world, and finally to edify the church through the proclamation of the words of the Lord. Since the church is entrusted with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the church corporate stewardship can, therefore, be defined accordingly. Thus, it is the orderly practice of harnessing and mobilizing the dedicated potential of the people of God, anchored on the conviction that the stewardship is a trust from God to implement His will in building His Kingdom in the whole world. Thus, the church stewardship as provided for by the above definition encompasses the management of the resources given to the church, including the tertiary institutions through which future stewards of the word of God are mentored.

Stewardship theory is also anchored in psychology and sociology. Initially, it was designed for scholars to study situations in which company heads as stewards are motivated to act and work in the best interests of their employers (Hernandez, 2008). Stewardship theory is anchored on the model of man acting as a steward whose behavior is managed such that collectivistic behaviors achieve higher utility than self-serving individualistic behaviors (Hernandez, 2008). Thus, given a choice between the two behaviors, the steward behavior will not depart from the institutional or organizational interests (Kai & Kurt, 2014). The steward’s behavior seeks to attain the objectives of the institution. Consequently, the Christian tertiary institution stands to gain by embracing stewardship. The church as the steward identifies with the institutions mission, vision, and objectives. A manager who actively identifies with an institution will work towards the institutions objectives, overcome barriers, and solve problems that may hinder the successful completion of assignments (Hernandez, 2008). In the Christian tertiary institutions, a steward will strive to work towards the achievement of the goals set by the institution and prudently manage the resources placed under him. It can be observed that the biblical basis for corporate stewardship is anchored on the interdependency and union of the believers as members of the church. Therefore, they must act and behave in good faith and mutual trust for one another. The church, therefore, must seek and undertake programs that generate income to sustain the running of the tertiary institutions as part of its stewardship of the people of God. Some churches have established dedicated committees for raising and managing church resources.

Stewardship has been a central concept in finance literature under the general theory of accountability. Researchers have observed that stewardship goes back to ancient times. Some scholars have traced stewardship principles in such ancient documents as the law of Hammurabi (Kent, 2010). The stewardship relationship could be discerned between the merchants and those acting as his agent. In recent years, the financial standards bodies such as the Financial Accounting Standard Board (FSAB), the United States of America accounting regulatory body, and the international Accounting Standard Board (IASB), is increasingly concentrating on the usefulness of stewardship in financial decision-making reporting (Nussbaum & Chang, 2013). However, the trend among these bodies goes beyond financial reporting to the purview of corporate governance. It can, therefore, be argued that stewardship has a broader reach into all spheres of human life. In the context of management of Christian tertiary institutions stewardship goes beyond finances to the prudent management of multitude of resources under the administration of the steward (Kent, 2010).

Accountability among the Christian tertiary institutions is a subject closely identified with stewardship. Thus, management accountability is an expectation of the institutions stakeholders (Kai & Kurt, 2014). However, the literature dealing with leadership accountability in Christian tertiary institutions is scanty. Most of the literature available dwells on accountability of financial management and legal compliance. Accountability is associated with stewardship because the stakeholders’ expectations placed on the stewards.

The concept of stewardship has been the hallmark of American Christian institutions because the churches and the institutions associated with them had had to raise funds from the congregation as opposed to the institutions in Europe who were financially supported by the state (Kai & Kurt, 2014). Consequently, there has grown an understanding of stewardship on monetary precepts only. However, despite the attempts to broaden the scope of Christian stewardship among the modern Christians, the association of finance and stewardship is still strong. The perception narrows the understanding of stewardship (Nussbaum & Chang, 2013). The theory of ethical leadership originated from the stakeholders theory as a theory of governance where managers motives find alignment with goals of several parties. The governance theory is concerned with how an institution optimizes accountability and performance and how goals and values are integrated within the structures that are made (Hernandez, 2008).

Christian Stewardship

A short definition of Christian stewardship is the faithful management of the resources that God has given to his people. Thus, stewardship can be said to be the faithful, systematic, and proportional management of the time, abilities, and financial resources so that, through the prudent management, God can use those resources to transform people’s lives and reach out to other people with God’s redeeming love (Baskar, 2005). Thus, the ancient conceptualization of stewardship has several defining characteristics which have religious connotations. The connotations involve pro-active cultivation and nurturing of resources for the furtherance of Gods mission. Therefore, stewardship carries the responsibility to attend to the interests of others and concerns with issues that go beyond economics (Nussbaum & Chang, 2013). The steward leader is in a trust relationship and carries responsibility of faithfulness and diligence in the administration of the institutional resources (Baskar, 2005). While some scholars suggest that the terms accountability and stewardship are interchangeable, stewardship has been seen as having a more holistic approach than accountability. Consequently, the relationship between accountability and stewardship depends on the manner the two concepts are understood (Shiller, 2012).

Successful Christian institutes acknowledge that they depend on God for the missions and programs they undertake relying on the Christian world for human and financial resource. Thus, most effective institutions remain program-driven, consequently, a high level of integrity guides the methods of searching for funds and how they are used. The biblical principle of stewardship of resources also extend to the manner people in the institution are treated (Weems, 2010). The institution leaders have a responsibility to God; therefore, the staff is a valuable asset and therefore, should have access to personal development programs, fair compensation, and realistic workload (Nussbaum & Chang, 2013). They should be empowered to participate in decision making on issues that affect them. Thus, the workforce in the Christian tertiary institution is diverse in their background and skills giving a reflection of the inclusivity of the body of Christ.

The steward management style should match the cooperative nature of the contact with the workforce and should as informal as possible and as participative as possible. Stewardship should display integrity, trustworthiness and maturity leading to trust between employees and management reinforced by a consistent, caring attitude, and competence.

There are several identifiable stewardship models. Studies in organizational governance and economic theory have largely been influenced by the agency theory which argues that managers do not always act to maximize the returns to the stakeholders because of varying interests unless governance measures and structures are put in place. However, in the last few decades there has emerged a stewardship theory of governance to address the deficiencies inherent in the agency theory. The stewardship theory says that managers have an intrinsic desire to enhance the organization performance because of they have a sense of duty and identify with the institution. The stewardship theory strives to give a connection between the church (the sponsoring agency) and the institutions (Nussbaum & Chang, 2013). According to scholars of steward leadership, steward driven institutions involve a strong alignment and balancing between the institution and the agency values. Steward led institutions are characterized by motivation and trust.

Stewardship Foundation

If accountability is to realize its potentiality in making a contribution to evaluation of stewardship and, therefore enhance the Christian tertiary institution sustainability, the institutions accounting systems have to be empowered to provide the relevant information to the sector (Taft & Ellis, 2012). Financial reports are important source of information in regard to the activities of the tertiary institutions and any problem with the accounting system would indicate that the reporting is not fulfilling its potential. It is important to examine how the funding contributions are reported and how volunteer contributions, as an integral resource, are raised (Smith & Laine, 2013). The two elements highlight the deficiencies that could occur in the reporting of the institutions discharge of the stewardship responsibilities and the determination of institution sustainability.


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Using Stewardship as a Blueprint for Sustaining Christian Tertiary Institutions
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Caroline Mutuku (Author), 2018, Using Stewardship as a Blueprint for Sustaining Christian Tertiary Institutions, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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