Question and Answer with Chinese Steward Leaders
By Kelsey McFaul
Engaging Chinese Christians with the biblical teaching on stewardship
These interviews were conducted in 2017 in China as part of The Steward’s Journey project to engage the growing community of Chinese Christians with the biblical teaching on stewardship.
Are there specific aspects of Chinese culture that make Christian stewardship a challenging concept?
Matt Yan: Parents teach their children you should work hard and that’s how you get success. Confucius’ writings say work hard, you get the golden house, the beautiful wife, you will be an official, you will be in government. Government policy encourages people to develop, to start-up companies, to cooperate to make money. This is allowed. That’s why all the people, they believe the only way you can be rich and be successful is from your hard working. No one gives it to you; you fight for it. And because you fight for it, then you own it. Then stewardship tells them God owns everything, and it’s a challenge. They say, ‘No. This are the things I own. These are the things I worked for.’ Even for the Christians and for the church in China, they also preach that God gives you everything, but you still own it. So this is the totally new idea.
Lisa Ning: In Chinese culture it’s hard to confront people when there’s a conflict. Because in our culture, we don’t embarrass people. We don’t say bad words in front of people’s faces. So this is still a hard thing and we see a lot of broken relationships in our culture because we try to be the owner of the face, the relationship, everything. But being a steward means I need to put away what I care about and give it to God. To confront people when we have to and to forgive, to ask for forgiveness when we have to. I had a conflict with my boss. Especially because I’m a female and he’s the boss, the role for me to confront is really difficult. But when I figure out it has to be God’s way and He is the one in control, not me, I can do this even though I feel vulnerable. My boss is a brother, he’s a Christian. He’s so humble to listen to me, and we clarify everything. There’s an old saying in China that if the china, like the plate, is broken, it cannot be fixed because it’s broken into pieces. But in God, it’s a miracle. When a relationship is broken, God reconciles people and it’s a miracle. It’s even more beautiful than before.
How has training in steward leadership, or reading The Steward’s Journey, impacted your faith and your leadership?
Matt Yan: In our church, they just ask us to read the Bible every day, attend the meeting every weekend, and that’s all. We just repeat and repeat and repeat every day. But sometimes we should just stop and consider other things, like the steward teaching you guys bring to us. That really brings my relationship with God into another level, really reading, thinking, and putting into practice. The traditional way we develop the relationship with God, we just come to God when we need Him. We just come to God when we feel distressed, when we feel helpless, when we have the problem we cannot deal with in our own way. Because we think that God is like a tool, to use in an emergency. But the idea of the steward just totally puts this upside down. God is the master, God is the owner. We should listen to God. He owns the problem and we don’t own anything. That gives the new way, a new life, like reborn.
Lisa Ning: The one thing I love about this book, it mentions the four spheres of stewardship: the relationship with God, with others. with the self and with creation. It’s a gift God gives back to us to let us to be a steward, to take care everything and grow every aspect of them. When I read this book, I get more and more excited about what God is doing in my life and in people’s life around me. I am expecting to see reconciliation of all their relationships.
Matt Yan is a young Christian leader living and working in China. He attended college in the United States.
Lisa Ning grew up in northeast China in a non-Christian family. She became the first Christian in her family when she accepted the Lord in 2006 as a sophomore in college.
*Disclaimer: We’ve changed the names of these leaders in order to keep their identities discreet.