By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
TOWSON, Md.—Scott Priessler, Eklund professor of stewardship at Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, explained the often-misunderstood parable of the “shrewd manager” depicted in Luke 16.
A keynote speaker for the Tuesday morning session of the Nov. 8-10 annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware in Towson, Md., Priessler said that, contrary to popular belief, the manager actually represented his master well.
In the parable, Jesus told the disciples about a rich man and his servant. The servant, a Hebrew slave, had been given full authority over the master’s resources while the rich man was gone from his estate.
Through the grapevine, the master heard that his servant was “squandering” the possessions that he was supposed to be managing and to save his reputation, came quickly to fire the servant.
Meanwhile, all the master’s debtors heard of the servant’s dilemma, and the servant knew well that the other Hebrews would not receive him. He had to come up with a plan—to save his master’s reputation and his own.
Priessler went on to explain that the master’s reputation was based on his benevolence to others. He wasn’t interested in being paid back, so he didn’t ask the steward for his money. He just said, “You gotta go,” Priessler explained.
After the master left, the steward, acting with more authority than before, summoned the debtors and effectively lessened their debts.
“Money was flowing,” shared Priessler, explaining that the debtors wanted to pay their debts before the master could change the amount they owed. Ultimately, the master praised the servant manager for acting shrewdly or “astutely.”
“The manager actually served his master better than he did before,” said Priessler, comparing the parable to today’s world.
“How long can the Lord tarry?” he asked, noting that times are going to get tough.
The servant was faithful; he wanted to make his master look good. He was industrious. Similarly, Priessler challenged, “It’s not to do more, but to do—to serve God faithfully despite the circumstances.”