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Steward or Worshiper: Which One Are You?
by  Cheryl Wilson-Bridges

Whenever I’ve encouraged a worship leader to find a scripture to accompany his or her worship set, most leaders would naturally turn to the book Psalms. Some may turn to the New Testament. But few, if any, would consider Genesis as a resource for worship leading. Yet I have found that there are many golden principles that can be found in the book of Genesis.

In the beginning when God created the world, he designed Adam to be its first worship leader. On the sixth day God created Adam and gave him dominion (Gen. 1:28). Then God rested and sanctified the seventh day for all Earth’s worship and praise (Gen. 2:2). From the beginning, God intended leadership and worship to be partnered. Adam and Eve walked together in the Garden in the freedom of holy fellowship. 

Now I know that the Bible never mentions Adam playing the harp or bursting into song. But worship leadership is more than mere music. Worship leadership is the purposeful and grateful response of someone who has encountered the magnificence of God and desires to lead others into His presence. Adam’s duty was to obey God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17). When Eve was tempted and sinned, Adam also fell. Now Adam had to offer an animal sacrifice to engage in open praise.

After the fall, Adam again had to follow God’s instructions.  I imagine he taught his boys Cain and Abel how to build an altar to offer God a sacrifice of praise. But there was more trouble in paradise. Cain and Abel had different opinions on how to offer true worship.  Although they were both taught by their father the same way to worship God the boys brought two very different offerings—an animal sacrifice and fruit. This difference of opinion resulted in God’s rejection of Cain’s offering. Then ended in a fatal fight between the boys over which kind of worship was most appropriate. 

Many of us believe that Cain’s offering of fruit was unacceptable to God solely because it didn’t include a blood sacrifice. But the book of Genesis lets us know that God made a deeper distinction. The Bible describes Abel as a keeper of sheep and Cain as a tiller of the ground (Genesis 4:2). A keeper means, “A person charged with the responsibility for the preservation and conservation of something valuable.” [1] Abel was a steward. Abel lived his life understanding that everything he managed belonged first to God. 

But the Bible describes Cain differently. Cain was a tiller. The word tiller is the Hebrew term abad, which means, “To work, to serve, keep in bondage, worshiper.” [2] Cain ultimately worshiped the ground given to him by God for his care. Cain was so captivated by his talented ability to create that he began to worship the fruits of his labor. Cain offered his worship preference instead of seeking God’s Holy presence. His ability to produce fresh fruits clouded his judgment and desire to offer God praise.

If you were asked are you a steward or a worshiper, most of us would naturally chose worshiper. But in true worship, only God is the audience. God is the focus of our praise; therefore He determines what is acceptable. Sadly it was Cain’s angry, unrepentant mind and heart that convinced him to offer God what he thought was best and not what God required of him in worship. 

In many churches today, the contention between Cain and Abel rages on. We sacrifice an atmosphere of sacredness as we endlessly bicker about our opinions on music. Some of us have become so engrossed in our talents, that we are easily angered or offended when others share opposing beliefs. Worship is not music. If we are not careful the fight that ended the life of Abel will fuel our worship wars and become fatal to church growth. 

It is time for us to ask ourselves daily am I a steward like Abel or a worshiper like Cain? When God’s Word guides us then bickering and worship wars will end. We will offer praise as a preview of paradise that reflects our heavenly home.


[1] Random House Dictionary Unabridged, s.v. “Keeper” (accessed December 7, 2007).
[2] The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon, (accessed December 5, 2007).