Shrewd. What do you think of when you hear this word? Do you think it describes you? Would you want someone to describe you as being shrewd?
Yesterday, Dr. James Edwards of Whitworth University taught our adult Sunday school class Jesus’ parable about the shrewd manager found in Luke 16:1-9. The parable concludes with: “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.”
To the surprise and disappointment of many people in our class, Dr. Edwards pointed out that godly people should be shrewd. We tend to not be very shrewd, but we should be shrewd. Even though that is clearly how the parable concludes, some people in our class were not comfortable with the idea that we are supposed to be shrewd. Somehow being shrewd does not sound very holy.
A shrewd person is astute and penetrating, often with regard to business. He is artful and crafty, marked by practical hardheaded intelligence. A smart businessman who shows mental alertness and resourcefulness is shrewd.
Are we really supposed to be shrewd in the Church? Should we demonstrate shrewdness in ministry? What about in missions, relief, and development?
As a regular reader of missiological research and an observer and participant in the Church and in missions, I agree with the parable. We should become more shrewd. My observation is that we often have good intentions, but fail to think clearly and act astutely when it comes to investing Kingdom resources. If we could recover the money shamefully lost due to poor planning, inefficient structures, and corruption, there would be more than enough to invest in all the viable, strategic, and effective efforts imaginable.
My prayer is that we will cease the naiveté and become more shrewd, especially when investing resources designated for Kingdom purposes.