If you grew up around the Western Church, it’s easy to associate “stewardship” with finances. When a local church or faith-based NGO introduces a “stewardship campaign,” people understand it’s a capital-raising initiative or a focus on embracing the biblical call to kingdom generosity.
None of that is wrong, but it’s a shallow understanding of what is actually quite radical. Let’s broaden our thinking and allow a subordinate posture before the Living God to rattle our cages just a bit.
What do you have? What is yours?
Your first inclination might look to financials: net worth calculations, portfolio summaries, and balance sheets. Or perhaps you thought of your home, cars, spouse, or children. Maybe a collection of stuff, contact list, network, knowledge, or intangible wealth come to mind?
This Christmas, my girls (7 and 10) discussed what gifts to give friends and family. Then, on Christmas morning, they came out of “their” rooms to see what new stuff was “theirs.” Throughout the day, we navigated a few training opportunities around the ideals of sharing and respecting what is “yours” and what is not.
Every parent appreciates the irony of helping two dependents grapple with respecting the stuff you give them, how to spend the money you gave them, and then how they treat the treasures you bestow upon them. You know the joy when a child, with great delight, awaits your response to the gift they bought you with your own money. Or maybe you’ve opened the fridge to have someone shout, “Dad, you’re not going to eat that, are you? That’s mine!”
When I’m most perplexed at my kids’ failure to recognize all of this “mine” business is a farce … it hits me –that’s me, too. That’s all of us.
When I’m most perplexed at my kids’ failure to recognize all of this “mine” business is a farce, that everything they have is only because I’ve allowed them to have it, and they can’t claim original ownership of anything in our house, it hits me – that’s me, too. That’s all of us.
As I like to say, we serve a God who’s loaded! Stewardship means I’m a manager of stuff that actually belongs to and is sourced from a sovereign God. It’s all His, and He cares about what we do with everything (time, talent, treasure, influence, etc). This understanding of stewardship changes what I do, how I do it, and why I do it.
I’m an assigned manager to a portfolio company within God’s Holding Company, and even my family, resources, and intangibles are entrusted to me for his good purposes. That investment decision? It’s God’s money. That hiring decision? That person is made in the image of God, and how I treat people is getting into the actual currency of heaven.