What is your reaction when you hear the term stewardship? I’ve met several people who automatically assume it is a passive-aggressive way for the local church to ask for more money. I must confess, when I hear stewardship is the topic, I assume I already know what it means, that I don’t need to be told again. But as I’ve struggled to write this article, I’ve thought over this topic more than ever. I’ve come to realize I had a narrow understanding of it, and I haven’t been a very good steward.
When I say I haven’t been very good at it, I don’t mean I’ve been reckless or amassed insurmountable debts, but like most biblical principles stewardship is a matter of the heart. My heart, from as early as I can remember, has been selfish and discontented. I can recall a particular instance as a child when this became apparent. I was at a store with one of my grandmothers, and I “threw a fit” because I didn’t get a toy on that visit.
Notice, I said, “on that visit.” I was accustomed to and assumed I could get something that day, just like the many other similar shopping outings with her. I felt entitled. I am quick to spot this attitude of entitlement in others, but I often fail to see it in myself. This attitude still rears its ugly head on occasion even now, and I find myself making financial or time decisions based on what serves my wants. This is not how a Biblical steward should operate. Biblical stewardship moves our motivations for how we use resources beyond ourselves.
Stewardship is an awesome responsibility when we realize it is really a relationship. God desires and invites us to share in His vast wealth in order to partner with Him in fulfilling His purposes with those resources. How do we embrace this role with proper motivation and live it out?
Humility, contentment, and grace are the three principles that combine to create a firm foundation for a spirit of stewardship to flourish. I must acknowledge that all “my” belongings and resources are not my own. They are blessings on loan from my Creator to use for His will and not my own comfort. It takes humility to accept a place as a steward and not the owner or creator. Humility prepares us for the role of a steward.
Along with humility comes the need to develop a heart of contentment. I must recognize how blessed I am and be grateful for all God has entrusted to me. This doesn’t mean I stop striving for my best or the best of my family, friends, or church. It is simply a change of perspective and purpose. “I have enough; now, what can I do to help improve the lives of others and further God’s Kingdom on earth.” Contentment allows me to focus on what is best for others.
Finally, I must be willing to accept God’s grace. I will mess up while trying to live out biblical stewardship, but God’s grace is sufficient. This is not an excuse for not trying but conceding that God can and does work through our deficiencies. Grace provides us freedom to live a life of stewardship to the best of our ability and understanding, out of a heart to honor Him. God’s grace completes our imperfect stewardship.
Stewardship, when lived out, is an act of faith. As my pastor recently mentioned in a sermon, our kingdom words and works should align and equal one another. This is a particular area on which God and I are still working. I encourage you to think through the motivations behind your daily activities and financial choices, and see if any areas stand out when viewed through the lens of stewardship. If you find an area, pray about it and try to refocus your motivation for it. May we all be known as faithful stewards of our Lord’s resources.
If you would like help in creating a church or personal stewardship plan, please contact the Board of Retirement at 877-767-7738 or email us at [email protected].
**Adapted from ONE Magazine