Prophetic Stewardship

by Morris Ruddick on August 19, 2013


© Morris E. Ruddick


“Then the king said, ‘Bring me a sword. Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.’ Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, ‘O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!’ But the other said, ‘Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.’” 1 Kings 3:24-26

Solomon’s wisdom in discerning the true mother is also a key to discerning true leaders. True leaders have the compassion that is willing to face personal sacrifice. It’s the mark of stewardship. The perspective of the wannabees and unseasoned will tend toward being inwardly focused and driven by personal, wrong reasons.

True biblical stewardship is just the opposite. Prophetic stewardship bears an even higher standard. Kingdom leadership pivots on stewardship that seeks the community good. That may require a decisiveness that is neither popular nor comfortable. It demands a basis that understands the true heart of God and the long-term prophetic implications.

Joseph’s service to Pharaoh began with a time of preparation. Scripture indicates that these years of preparation were a fruitful time, a time of abundance. Yet, what was required to gather and store the grain demanded discipline. It no doubt involved some belt-tightening for everyone. The tough standards and decisions required were not for the feint of heart or those with the need to be accepted.

Yet, when the years of abundance were over and famine came, then both the decisions and the discipline became even harder. Joseph’s stewardship involved a balance between maintaining order, adjusting to the widespread famine, while establishing Egypt as solution-provider. It required a level of administration that not only was gifted, but drew from God’s wisdom for the decisions being made.

Egypt, under Joseph, became the safe-place, the place of God’s order when everything else was falling into disorder. That took tough-minded decision-making to set up and no doubt even tougher decisions to maintain and administrate. Genesis 45 reveals that as the famine proceeded, that the money failed. Prophetically God had shown Joseph the need to gather and store the grain. Because the staple with value was grain, Joseph was in the driver’s seat. Clearly Joseph heard from God.

With the abundance of grain, Joseph cornered the livestock market. The people of Egypt remained fed, as Egypt’s influence with those around them increased as a prepared-provider and a refuge during the turbulence. As things deteriorated, the people sold their land to Joseph for the food needed to feed their families. The famine was severe. No doubt the value of land had also dropped. Yet, Joseph the good steward, the prophetic steward, brought the people into the cities to live.
When the money failed, Joseph bought the livestock; then the land; then brought the people into the cities.” Gen 47:15-25

The suggestion is that there was safety and community order, again a refuge, within the boundaries of the cities. Joseph maintained the order needed during a severely difficult time, kept the people fed and kept them safe. Following the famine, Joseph restored the people to their lands requiring only a fifth on their produce in return.

The Prophetic Dimension
Operating in the prophetic means there are often times when we “see” or perceive things that we want to act on. However, the prophetic calling requires a lot more by way of self-control than the ordinary. It’s too important. The mature prophetic response is from those who rule their own spirits.

The prophetic is first hearing from God. However, when we hear from God another key required layer is the issue of alignment and seeing things from the stance of what God is doing. It’s becoming a participator in His destiny-shaping purposes and agendas. It’s entering a dimension of God’s big-picture beyond ourselves.

Yet, we can sometimes get the big-picture without seeing how God is getting us there. So, operating in the prophetic requires a continual checking-in with Him for the “interims.” That’s because none of us are at the place to where we nail it at each step, despite our best and most valiant efforts to do so.

One of the hardest things to learn is to NOT force issues. The flip side of that is holding steady when you don’t yet see the change in the natural. Yet, faith and faithfulness are determined by those who grasp what is underway in the unseen world.

When we are in a place where there is something that God is doing that we haven’t fully or even partially discerned, it represents a place of vulnerability. Well intentioned people unwittingly walk into cross-fires of judgment by yielding to the soulish in these interims.

Judgment can also be triggered because of ones who, being convinced of their “rightness” regarding something, don’t have the big-picture quite right. They lack a full discernment of what God is doing or their place in it. What results is creating a short-circuiting or backlash by which they and others are hurt. Prophetic stewardship requires keeping one’s spiritual antennas high and at the times one is provoked over something, to back off until they hear specifically what the Lord has to say about it.

Cost of the Mantle
The dreams Joseph received from God as a young man came at a high cost. They cost Joseph everything that had been dear to him, including his freedom. Yet, Joseph rose to the standard that God had set for him. THAT took decisions that refused to give in to the soulish. It took serious discipline, humility and maturity.

Not only did Joseph demonstrate a right spirit; but as a good steward, he took it a step further in assuming the mantle of his great-grandfather Abraham: to be blessed to be a blessing. Long before his promotion to sit alongside of Pharaoh, with nothing to go on in terms of position, Joseph distinguished himself with Potiphar and then the jailer with both his influence and the stewardship of the mantle he bore.

The result came from a right spirit that stewarded the blessings of God in such a way that everyone around Joseph saw that God was real, through the demonstration of that reality through Joseph. Yet, it came at a cost; a very high cost. In the face of losing everything; in the face of slavery; in the face of unrighteous spiritual backlash; Joseph maintained his faithfulness as God’s servant-steward.

Gravity of the Mantle
Leaders, who truly understand the times and know what to do, demonstrate a maturity that is above the soulish. They don’t quibble or second guess when tough decisions are required. They guard their own hearts diligently and do not give in to soulish machinations. Yielding to the soulish is what opens the door for the demonic.

The contrast is demonstrated in Isaiah 22 with the story of two leaders, one whose decisions were short-sighted and driven by personal, soulish matters and another whose stewardship embraced the long-term opportunity resident in the heart of God.
“Go to Shebna, who is over the house, and say: Indeed, the LORD will throw you away violently; there you shall die. Then it shall be in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim; I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open. I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.”
 Isaiah 22:15-23

Authority of the Prophetic
The authority of God for change is released through the prophetic. The story of Joseph reflects a progression of episodes in his life tied to how he heard and obeyed the voice of the Lord. This simple foundation in many untenable situations became the catalyst for a power and an authority that was recognized as being from God by a whole range of non-believers, including those in authority.

That prophetic authority was the means by which God used Joseph to shift the spiritual climate within Egypt’s power infrastructure. It set the stage for the prophetic alignment needed for Joseph’s apostolic gifts to harness, redirect and then steward the resources of Egypt to accomplish God’s purposes for the future of His people.

Discernment and Prophetic Alignment
Joseph’s tenure in Egypt is laced with examples of Joseph’s significant prophetic gifts. Prophetic stewardship will unmask the intentions of the hearts of those who serve a role, whether for good or for evil, in the initiatives being stewarded.

The story of the baker and the wine-taster exemplifies how, during Joseph’s weakest hour in the natural, that God used him prophetically to judge and establish the removal of one key man from Pharaoh’s court; and to restore and set up another, who became instrumental at the right time in aligning things for Joseph’s promotion.

Similarly, Joseph’s scrutiny of his brothers was not retribution, but the need to see the repentance that was needed for Joseph to establish parameters with those who once betrayed him. By the time his brothers came back on the scene, Joseph was in the full flow of his very considerable calling. He did not need the old issues and patterns of behavior demonstrated by his betrayers to manifest and disrupt in any way his role as God’s servant-steward.

Still, the discernment of Joseph was not an end in itself, but the means of aligning things first spiritually and then in the natural, for God’s purposes. Stewarding the will of God begins with resetting the spiritual climate. When the spiritual climate is properly aligned, it allows God’s order to be established. Only then, will the stable flow come needed to counteract the forces of judgment and the tentacles of evil.

The Prophetic Steward
The prophetic steward is the one who maps out, builds up and brings increase in the face of the enemy’s schemes to divide, confuse and destroy.

I have previously noted an organization I was a part of many years ago. The standard for entry was high. The standard to be maintained was even higher. Members of this organization became known by the axiom of “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It is unfortunate within the Body that many confuse soft standards of the world with the level in which, we as a Body are expected to operate. Our standard, like that of Joseph’s is higher. It’s much, much higher.

I have had the joy of working with two men of God who operate with this higher standard. They each are very different in their leadership styles, yet very similar in anointing. Each reaches hard for God’s heart and God’s will on the issues before them. Both are unusual in their roles as prophetic stewards.

One is incredibly gifted in discerning the gifts and will of God operating in people, with the ability to draw forth and put those gifts into operation. The other is a very high-level administrator, whose ability to discern the big-picture and then mobilize leaders to address it, is timely and strategic. One is a model for the Body locally; the other globally.

Both are incredible peacemakers, a very high standard in the progressive maturity unveiled by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. They each have a gift for tapping and aligning things spiritually to establish God’s order and to release the supernatural for change. We need more of that standard.

We’ve entered a time that Jesus spoke of as when even the very elect would be deceived. It is a time when the convergence of good and evil will trigger both judgment and change. Prophetic stewardship sees the alignments and change in the spirit from God’s perspective. It then navigates and anticipates the responses needed to shape and release God’s purposes.

The Lord Jesus also told us that many are called, but few are chosen. The criterion for leadership, established by Solomon’s wisdom, begins with sacrifice and compassion. It is evidenced by those who not only face, but traverse and emerge whole from the fires. It pivots on an unpolluted prophetic stewardship that pays the cost to unswervingly maintain the steps needed to change the spiritual climate and to establish God’s order.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
Matthew 5:16

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