“Whether you are a public servant, civil servant, business man or woman; know you that you are nothing but God’s stewards and you are expected to behave.”
The Bishop of Okigwe South Anglican Diocese, Rt. Rev. David Onuoha made this statement during the opening ceremony of the Third Session of the Eighth Synod of the Abuja diocese held at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Maitama. He asked the people to take to heart the admonition of St. Paul wherein he said that it is required in stewards that they be found faithful. He added that the goal of stewardship is to give glory to God and to serve the needs of men; and not for personal enrichment and self gratification.
Bishop Onuoha described the theme, ‘Christian stewardship’ as very apt and good for both the Church and the Nigerian society; particularly at this time when it appears that things have fallen apart. He opined that understanding God’s mind in placing people in the various positions of service and placing resources at their disposal will no doubt enable them to remember that they have a God to glorify. The Bishop defined stewardship as utilizing and managing God’s resources for His glory and the good of mankind adding that it involves more than giving money, time and talents. He said that stewardship demands that one gives himself or herself to the service of God and humanity. For, to him, if people give themselves to God, naturally and logically everything they have belongs to Him; but, if they give for the sake of giving without giving their life, then it is not true Christian stewardship.
He pointed out that a steward is someone who handles affairs for someone else and therefore when the real, “big man” comes back he expects that an account of stewardship is given. In other words, he added that without accountability stewardship means nothing. The Cleric emphasized that stewardship is not judged primarily on its success but on the faithfulness of the steward. And so, he said that the lesson to be learnt in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25: 14-30 is that of faithfulness in stewardship; pointing out the use of the word, ‘faithful’ in the master’s commendation of the servants (“Well done good and faithful servant”). The Bishop clarified further by stating that there is success in every faithfulness, but it is not every success that has faithfulness in it.
According to the Bishop, this synod theme reminds individuals that wherever they may find themselves whether as Bishops, Archdeacons, Pastors and so on they are not owners of the Church adding that it must also be noted that no matter the capacity in which one is serving at the moment in this nation, Nigeria still belongs to God. He quoted from the Bible passage that says that the earth is the Lord’s and its fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein and called all to the realization that all things are owned by God. Bishop Onuoha pointed out that if God is not honoured by anyone’s position and if men are not benefitting from services rendered from that position, then the person should know that he or she is not a faithful steward.
He cited Joseph as an example of a faithful steward, who though presented with greener pastures refused to accept it because he did not want to offend God and his master. From the story, he further explained that the true test of faithfulness in stewardship is what one does when no other person is watching. Rt. Rev. Onuoha debunked the erroneous teachings in certain Churches today, that there is no suffering in Christianity. He termed such teachings as “Rice and Stew Christianity”, stating that the Scriptures point out that many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers them from them all. He continued that Joseph passed through difficult times but at the end he was moved from prison to Presidency. Therefore, he asked all to endeavour to serve God wherever they are placed, no matter the challenges they may face, because at the fullness of time, God will reward all those who remain faithful and diligent.
Rt. Rev. David Onuoha concluded his message by charging all to let men consider them as servants of Christ and faithful stewards of God; because an unfaithful servant is an embarrassment to himself, God and the Church. Thus, he prayed that God would open their eyes and mind and enlighten their understanding, so that they would know that the position that they are occupying now is not theirs but the Lord’s. He further prayed that the Holy Spirit will give them the sensitivity and awareness that they require to use their position and resources to glorify God and to serve humanity.
The Opening Service marked the beginning of the Third Session of the Eighth Synod and twenty-four years of the founding of the Diocese of Abuja Anglican Communion.
By Ngozi Maduoma