Finances By The Book - Discipleship Course
Chapter 4
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Chapter Goals/Competencies:

  • Put the management mandate into practice
  • Learn from the examples of famous stewards in the Bible
  • Use the 8 Kingdom Principles to bring glory to God

Management: God’s Mandate to Humanity

Key Scripture: Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders’ -- Genesis 41: 39-40

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines management as "the conducting or supervising of something (as a business,'); judicious use of means to accomplish an end; executive skill." A manager then is someone who administers the affairs of another. He or she agrees to act as the master’s legal representative, thereby placing the master’s concerns above any personal interests. A manager’s outstanding attribute should be faithfulness.

The first management positions were held jointly by Adam and his wife Eve. God placed them in charge of his newly created world, which he had pronounced "Good!" Now he set Adam and Eve, made in his own image, in the middle of Eden. One sweep of God’s hand demonstrated the extent of their responsibilities—a beautiful planet covered by earth and sea with a huge canopy of sky overhead. God gave them an earth teeming with plant and animal life. He said, "Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature. . . . I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it" (Gen. 1:28-29).

Several examples of this management principle at work are recorded in the Bible:

Joseph. Even as a slave, Joseph proved his managerial skills in the household of Potiphar. "So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate" (Gen. 39:6). Joseph proved his trustworthiness to his master, in spite of adverse circumstances. Once a slave and a prisoner, Joseph was literally lifted from the pit to the pinnacle. As a result of God’s divine placement, Joseph was put in charge of a whole nation. He was the equivalent of the modern Secretaries of State, Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, and Health and Human Services all rolled into one. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you" (Gen. 41:40).

Daniel. Exiled to Babylon as a young man, Daniel became known for his wisdom and understanding. As a result, he prospered under four different kings. Darius the Mede made Daniel one of three administrators over one hundred twenty satraps who ruled over the kingdom. "Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom" (Dan. 6:3). But as a result of treachery in high places, Daniel was thrown to the lions where he was miraculously saved by God.

Nehemiah. The task that Nehemiah faced as a leader was overwhelming. The wall around Jerusalem had been broken down for over a century, and the city was in a desperate situation. Nehemiah recognized that the people needed to be mobilized to rebuild the wall. Because of his intense desire to help the people, Nehemiah faced much opposition. Using his excellent leadership qualities and his ability to manage people, Nehemiah oversaw the rebuilding of the wall in a record fifty-two days. However, he refused the "perks" normally accorded to the governor—food, tax money, and land. "Out of reverence for God I did not act like that. Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall" (Neh. 5:15-16).

In the parable of the talents Jesus provides an excellent example of good management (Matt. 25:14-30). Two of the servants managed their master’s assets well and made a profit for him. But the third servant brought back the original amount intact. Although he had not been dishonest, the servant had failed in management. The slothful servant was more concerned with self-preservation than with his master’s interests. His faithlessness brought him deprivation and punishment rather than the reward he had anticipated. The faithful servants, however, were rewarded with greater responsibilities in management (v. 23).

Christians today—like the examples in the Old and New Testaments— have the same responsibility to be good managers. And sound biblical principles concerning money management are just as applicable now as they were in the past.

Life Application: What different kinds of management roles do you assume in your life? The home? The church? In business? Who is your favorite manager in the Bible, and why? What are the personal implications for your life of the biblical mandate to manage?


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