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Choosing Service Over Self-Interest

by Peter Block
Published in 1993, 1996

The current common practice of employing the tactics of the business world as a means of creating successful churches often fails to discriminate between those practices which are the result of biblical principles and practices which come from worldly self-interest. This book challenges some of the ungodly practices in the authority structures in business, which have also been adopted by many churches. It thoroughly describes stewardship in both idealistic and practical terms. Part I and Part III are more idealistic, while Part II is more about practical business applications. While it was written to reform businesses, this book does shed some light on those biblical passages which urge us to be good stewards.

  1. Replacing Leadership with Stewardship — Choosing Partners; Choosing Empowerment; Choosing Service; We Don’t Act on What We Know; The Leadership Question; The Underbelly of Leadership; The Stewardship Answer; Stewardship and Building Organizations
  2. Choosing Partnership Over Patriarchy — Creating Order; Distributing Ownership and Responsibility; Partnership as the Alternative; Balancing Power; Four Requirements of Partnership; Partner in Charge
  3. Choosing Adventure over Safety — Entitlement is Empowerment Run Aground; Choosing Empowerment; Stewardship Begins at Home
  4. Choosing Service over Self-Interest — A Model of Stewardship; Teaching Revolution to the Ruling Class; Rank without Privilege; Advise and Consent; Connecting the Heart and the Wallet
  5. Defining the Stewardship Contract — Principles for the Practice; The Stewardship Contract
  6. Upsetting Expectations: The Emotional Work of Stewardship — The Trail Is Inside Out; Facing the Wish for Dependency and Dominance; Where Is Everyone? Everyone Is on the Bus; Unstated Emotional Wants: Breaking the Pattern; Just Say No
  7. Redesigning Management Practices and Structures — Full Disclosure; Management Practices; Changing Basic Architecture
  8. Rethinking the Role of Staff Functions — In the Service of Top Management; Police and Conscience to the Line; Mandated Supplier; Mandated Services; Offering Choice and Building Capability; Service Guarantee
  9. Financial Practices: Creating Accountability with Self-Control — The Money Is the Message; Building Widespread Financial Stewardship; Living within the Law
  10. Human Resources: Ending the Practice of Paternalism — Institutional Caretaker; A New Purpose and Role; The Structure of Human Resources; Human Resource Practices that Support Stewardship
  11. Compensation and Performance Evaluation: Overturning the Class System — The Divine Right of Kings; Pay Reinforces Class Distinctions; Performance Not for Sale; Rank Individualism; Confusing Supervisory Evaluations with Performance; Pay for Empire; Reward Systems That Support Stewardship; The End of Caretaking
  12. Cosmetic Reform: When the Disease Becomes the Cure — The Open Office; Patriarchy Recreating Itself
  13. Recreating Our Organization through Stewardship — Stewardship Strategy for Political Reform; Steps Toward Political Reform
  14. Cynics, Victims, and Bystanders — The Power of the Cynic; Rescuing the Victim; Facts Won’t Help; Treating Caution as a Choice; The Opening of Eyes
  15. Choosing Freedom, Service, and Adventure — How; How? Is a Defense; Democracy on the Line