September 11, 2017
Over the past few weeks, we have talked a lot about stewardship. We have explored everything from the characteristics of a steward to the stewardship of resources, time, and opportunities. We have also shared a number of articles about new partnerships. One might wonder, however, what partnerships have to do with stewardship.
The verse that has been guiding our conversation is Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Stewardship is rooted in the fact that God owns everything and that we have the privilege of participating in God’s mission by stewarding the resources God has given each of us. It is through this mindset that we “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
So, where do partnerships come into view? Well, it has to do with the importance of collaboration. At Sioux Falls Seminary, we believe partnerships are an act of stewardship. We track several points of data each month. Like most schools, we track things like student satisfaction, enrollment, finances, and more. However, one of the most important things we track is our activity related to partnerships. While we cannot control the number of partners we have (that is God’s job), we can control the number of conversations we have with potential partners, how those conversations are progressing, and what God has done through those conversations.
As participants in God’s mission, we do well to remember that we are not working alone. God is with us, yes, but so are our fellow co-laborers. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-11, Paul reminds the church in Corinth that both he and Apollos had roles to play in their growth as disciples of Christ. Both he and Apollo are servants to whom God assigned a specific task or role in the work of the Lord. Therefore, “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” Paul goes on to say, “we are co-workers in God’s service” and that people in Corinth “are God’s field, God’s building.”
When coupled with our call to “do everything in the name of the Lord, Jesus,” we believe 1 Corinthians 3:1-11 has a lot to teach us when it comes to partnerships.
First, there is no place for competition in the Kingdom of God. Sioux Falls Seminary does not compete with other seminaries. We do not compete with churches. Put simply, we do not compete with anyone who is a citizen of the Kingdom of God. We are “co-workers in God’s service.” As co-workers, therefore, we should pursue, nurture, and hold fast to partnerships because it is part of who we are as followers of Christ. We are not lone rangers but rather a people called to collaborate with others as we follow Jesus on mission.
Second, no one is called to do everything. We must recognize that we have a specific role to play. To use Paul’s metaphor, some of us are called to plant seeds while others are called to water those seeds. By embracing partnerships and stewarding those relationships well, we are recognizing that our work is but a small part of the grand narrative that God is writing. We cannot (and should not) strive to do everything. No matter how much we try to build our own little kingdoms, we will always fall short. Partnership empowers us to fulfill our unique calling while helping others do the same.
Finally, partnerships bring glory to God. By recognizing that we are co-workers in God’s service who must work with others and rely on God in order for anything to be accomplished, we are stating, through our actions, that God is the one who brings the harvest. Then we are doing “everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
As you continue to see notes about partnerships at Sioux Falls Seminary, I encourage you to remember that our passion for partnerships is rooted in what we believe is a biblical mandate to walk alongside fellow disciples of Christ as all of us follow God on mission.