Book Review: Steward Leadership in the Nonprofit Organization

Today for “Natasha’s Study” I am reviewing the book, Steward Leadership in a Nonprofit Organization, by Kent R. Wilson

Why I picked up this book:

I am now leading a nonprofit organization, Leadership LINKS, Inc., and I want to honor the Lord with the work, as well as the people he has allowed us to serve with and to influence.


Who Should Read Steward Leadership in the Nonprofit Organization:

This book presents a biblical and historical model of steward leadership. When pondering leadership, most Christians first think of the servant leadership model. Some might be surprised that servant leadership is not the only leadership model presented in the Bible, and it might not always be the best approach given a particular context. The author presents servant leadership as a subset of steward leadership.


What’s in Store for You:

Kent R. Wilson (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is an executive coach and he operates the Nonprofit Leadership Exchange, a coaching and peer advisory group for nonprofit executives. This book is a summary of his dissertation research about steward leadership, much of it is historical in nature, getting to more of the practical application near the end.

This book is not only for nonprofit leaders. It is organized into three sections. The first section is historical. Section two provides an in-depth definition of the steward leadership model. Part three of the book provides practical application of the steward leadership model to the various leadership roles within a nonprofit organization.

Section one provides historical context for the steward in the classical Greco-Roman Culture. This is the cultural backdrop from which much of the Bible was written, and provides great insight for several of Jesus’ parable teachings concerning the kingdom of God. The book explores several of these parables, and provides definitions and understanding of the original languages.

Throughout the book, stewardship is defined as “the management of resources that belong to another in order to achieve the owner’s objectives.” Christian leaders must understand that God is the owner of all things, and stewardship is accepting our responsibility to manage what actually belongs to God.


Section Two informs the reader that because God owns everything, including the nonprofit and its resources, there is a specific way we are called to manage:

The organizational stewardship leadership definition emphasizes five important concepts:

  1. the two main purpose of stewarding resources are efficiency and growth,
  2. the individual is both managing (resources) and leading/influencing (people),
  3. the leader does not own the resources under management,
  4. the identity of the leader is that of a steward and a servant, and
  5. achieving the objectives of the owners is the ultimate goal.

Section Three indicates what steward leadership would look like for board members, the CEO or Executive Director, and the staff of a nonprofit organization. Again, these principles can be applied to various ministry context and not just nonprofit organizations.  Pastors and church leaders would benefit greatly from considering this approach to leadership.

My personal take-aways?

There is certainly a difference between leading a corporation, working with volunteers, and managing a nonprofit organization. This book provides a wealth of information, recommended book resources, and research to work through the unique challenges of managing a nonprofit organization.

It was one of the resources I referenced to prepare for our upcoming annual meeting. There is a wealth of information found here for education and assessments. I love lists, and this book is filled with them! When I want to assess our progress or focus on a particular area, this book will definitely help with that.

At the end of the day, the author shares good leadership instruction. Much of the material shared in the first section is good historical context which provides insight and better understanding for any Bible reader. The practical application material is section three is applicable for various ministry settings, including the church.


“A steward focuses primarily on his responsibilities while the master focuses on his rights—not vice versa.” – Kent R. Wilson

“The common goal of stewardship is to grow resources.” – Kent R. Wilson


“The fate of our organizations, which are built on public trust, and the fate of our communities, who rely on our services delivered often without charge, rest on excellent leadership.” – Kent R. Wilson

“[In Greco-Roman culture], the steward was responsible to manage all of the master’s resources, whether things or people, with foresight, efficient application and long-term sustainability in mind.” – Kent R. Wilson

“Trustworthiness is often tested through faithful stewardship of a small amount of resources, with greater resources as a possible reward.” – Kent R. Wilson

Next Up on This Topic:

“Boards that Matter: Building Blocks for Implementing Coherent Governance and Policy Governance” by Linda J. Dawson and Randy Quinn

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2017


Published by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Servant of Jesus. Truth-teller. Leader. Mentor. Author of Books.

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