by Caitlin Meadows
Do you ever think about how rich you are? In our “Subscribe & Save”, free 2-day shipping world of Amazon Prime, we are prone to focus our attention on what we don’t have yet rather than all that we do. The concept of stewardship, even among Jesus-followers, is mostly neglected.
As a member of civilized society, I’m guessing you own the following: a smart phone (and possibly a tablet), a computer, and at least one television. If you don’t have one of the above, it’s likely out of choice rather than financial inability. Further, I’m willing to assume that you have a roof over your head, enough clothes to last you at least a week (with a way to launder them), and transportation when you need it. No matter how small your net worth may be, you have the essentials and then some.
If this description fits you, then my friend, by the world’s standards you are rich.
Yet, despite this, most of us feel lacking. We are trained in our culture to have our gratifications met. To continually look to the next best thing. Can’t afford it? No biggie. There’s a payment plan for that! Poor credit? Good news! There’s financing available to you, too! Culturally (at least in the US), we compare what we have to what those around us have and therein find our worth. Subconsciously we’re acting like the seagulls in Finding Nemo, chanting, “Mine, mine, mine, mine.”
And then Jesus breaks through our self-promoting conquests. He confronts us with His gospel, reminding us that without Him, nothing we possess is of any value. Nothing is of any worth in light of His worthiness. And nothing we desire or cling to is ours to claim in the first place. We are His. And everything in our possession isn’t really ours at all. It all belongs to Him.
“Stewardship” is more than a Christian buzzword.
For those of us who’ve grown up attending church, the term “Christian stewardship” is one that we’ve heard about a thousand times. It’s a Christian buzzword of sorts. We associate it with Jesus’ parable about the servants’ handling of their masters’ talents (Matthew 25:14-30). We sort of glaze over when we hear it mentioned thinking we know all about it. But do we? As 21st century followers of Christ, is our stewardship of His blessings showcasing His gospel?
Ultimately, our stewardship of every area of our lives communicates whether we are selfishly living for the temporal gains of this life or investing in the eternal blessings of the Kingdom of God.
Stewardship is relevant for Christians of every era because we’ve been re-created by Jesus to vibrantly influence our circles for Him. When we neglect biblical stewardship, we limit our Christian influence.
What is stewardship, really?
Before stewardship became a Christian term, it referred to a job description. A steward of an estate, for example, was the equivalent to the manager of a store.
Paul Stevens, Professor Emeritus of Marketplace and Leadership at Regent College unpacks the term this way: “The word stewardship comes from the Greek word oikenomous, which means somebody who manages a household. A person doesn’t own the household but manages it. And stewards in the ancient world, of course, were trusted with everything from seeing that the floors were clean, to the finances, to the public face of that household. Joseph is a good biblical example of that.”¹
Ramsey Solution’s Chris Brown offers this break down,”Stewardship is managing God’s blessings God’s ways for Gods’ glory. See, the Bible tells us in Psalm 24:1 that He owns it all: ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof’ (KJV). And if He’s the owner, that means we’re not. Instead, we’re His stewards—His managers.“²
Stewardship implies relationship.
It is important as followers of Jesus to make a habit of taking an honest assessment of our lives. What motivates us? Are we abiding intimately with our Lord? Part of this self-assessment includes an honest look at our relationship with money and material items. Because how we operate as stewards points to how we relate to God.
“He [the Greek steward] was in authority as well as under authority”, explains Bill Peel of The High Calling. However, “the authority granted to him was never to be used for his own self-interest. He was to use it to advance the interests of the master to whom he was accountable”. Peel continues, “The essence of stewardship implies a two-party proposition. One person owns the resources and the other person is entrusted with the resources. By definition, a steward is accountable to his master for how resources are invested. So how does this apply to us today? Since God owns all things, he is the Master; he distributes gifts and resources at his discretion. We are stewards, accountable to him for all that we do with all that we are given.”³
God has entrusted each of us with His resources to advance His Kingdom and we are accountable to Him. That’s heavy stuff! Thankfully, we can find relief in the grace that Christ provides us as His followers. In relationship with Him, we have the freedom to seek His wisdom and direction in how we invest His resources. Not just finances and material items, but also less tangible things like time, energy, thoughts, skills, and relationships.
Christian stewardship encompasses everything – including our everyday leadership.
God commands us to be stewards over everything He blesses us with. Everything. That means our time, talents, treasure, relationships, jobs and, yes, stuff. It’s all God’s, and He trusts us with it”. – Chris Brown 4
When we recognize that every aspect of life is a blessing from God, our perspective on ownership drastically changes. With this perspective we intentionally worship Christ as we seek to glorify Him in our management of His provisions. Including our management of our Christian influence.
Here’s more from Bill Peel on this:
In the Bible, stewardship is the inherent standard to which God calls leaders—whether we’re leading a country, business, church committee, community organization, pack of Cub Scouts, our family, or ourselves. Leaders take the initiative and responsibility to be a faithful steward in God’s Kingdom in both public and private life.” 5
How is your stewardship of the blessings God has given you affecting your everyday influence for Christ? May our stewardship not showcase our worldly status but instead point those around us to the richness of Christ.