7 Important Stewardship Lessons
1. We are not the owners
Joseph was a steward in Potiphar's household. He was put in charge of caring for his master's possessions and his master's household. I sometimes confuse myself because I'll write my name on books and other items I own. This habit is a little misleading because everything I own - everything you own- is the property of God and God has given us the job of stewards. The day is coming when I will pass my books on to another to aid them in their ministry.
2. We act on behalf of the Master
A steward doesn't get to buy what she wishes with the money of another. She makes executive spending decisions that she believes to be in line with the will and wishes of the owner. In a similar way, we must not protect our own self-interest while managing God's money. Instead, we seek to use it in a way that is in line with God's will and wishes for God's property. Of course, we best discover God's will and wishes through the Bible.
3. The key quality of a steward is trust
If someone is going to ask us to oversee his estate, then surely he must trust us. With trust always comes expectation. To be trusted with something is the greatest of blessings and the greatest of burdens. We must do what is trustworthy and honorable with what we have received.
4. We are entrusted with different amounts
As stewards, we should rid ourselves from either jealousy or a judgemental heart. We are not asked to analyzed and criticize what other stewards are doing. Instead, we simply look at what we've been entrusted with and ask how we can bring the most glory to God with what God's given to us. There is a danger spending too much time concerned with the speck in our sister's eye, while we have a plank in our own eye.
5. We must anticipate an evaluation of our performance
When a master puts a steward in charge of his possessions, the steward should expect to be evaluated based on his performance. His performance is not one that earns the respect of the master. Instead, his performance recognizes the sovereignty and greatness of the master. Life is lived in response to the great blessings the steward has received. His evaluation will be based on what was first entrusted to his steward and based on the current results. A steward always anticipates the question, "Were you faithful with what was entrusted to you?"
6. Stewardship involves much more than money
We're stewards of all we have - gifts, environment, education, experience, and so on. We are who we are because of what we've been given by God. Are we using it - all of it - for our Lord's praise, honor, and glory?
7. Good stewardship may require training
It's rare for a person to instinctively know how to best manage all the resources of a master. There will be lessons to learn and habits to change. If I don't know how to budget, then learning about budgeting would be an act of good stewardship. If I don't know anything about investing, then learning how to invest would be an act of good stewardship. Good stewardship may require good education. If we seek to live for the praise and honor of God, we'll frequently remind ourselves of our proper role as God's stewards and servants.
The Honey Badger was in New Orleans last Sunday, playing for the Arizona Cardinals versus the NO Saints. Apparently he has strong support from ex-LSU player Patrick Peterson as well as his adoptive parents. He played an outstanding game, ended up making 10 tackles (which actually isn’t good because he’s a safety – this means he was making downfield tackles) and intercepting certain Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees in the end zone, halting a Saints drive.
Whether you love him or not, you have to give Tyrann Mathieu credit – he has not let his previous failures destroy him.
This reminds me of a little snippet of an interview with a noted shrink – working with some of the people injured/disfigured in the Boston Marathon bombing – that got my attention. The person writing the article asked, “What do you try to do for a person who comes to you for treatment?” The analyst said, “Our objective is to free the patieant from the tyranny of the past.”
The past can enslave us. Its fears, failures, and defeats can absolutely grab us by the throat. In that sense, it is a tyrant. And a tyrant is a cruel master.
Who among us has never failed? There isn’t one of us who does not know how it feels to fail in some way in our lives. It is tempting to throw our hands up and say, “What’s the use? I tried. I really tried. But things didn’t work out.”
And then we see others excel and advance in doing what we failed to do and we grumble about their luck or their playing politics and that we were too good to do that sort of thing.
The big danger is getting stuck in the failure. Once I visited a woman whose husband had failed in business. He sat silently in a corner of the room while I visited his wife, smoking one cigarette after another, obscuring himself behind a gray cloud. Failure had destroyed his will. He had given up. It was terrible to see.
Moses led the children of Israel into the wilderness. They spent 40 years there. Jacob loved Rebekah. He had to work 7 years for her hand after being tricked by his uncle, Laban (and previously having worked 7 years!). The disciples were in disarray after their Master was crucified. 300 years later Christianity was proclaimed the religion of the Roman Empire.
These people had faith. They turned their failures over to God. They asked God to teach them from their mistakes. They sought forgiveness and reconciliation. They had hope.
Here’s reality: the longer you live, the more times you will fail, and so the more you will have to deal with failure, both your own and that of loved ones and colleagues. So don’t let failure enslave you or defeat you. Keep trying. Keep the faith.
This "Back to Church Sunday", come on back...and bring someone with you! Martha Reese, in her book Unbinding the Gospel, says there are nine different kinds of persons to reach for the Church.
1. Children and Youth of the Congregation
Think of every Sunday School class and Youth meeting as a way to help our children know Jesus. Working with our own children is evangelism.
2. Children and Youth's Friends
Our children have friends at school and in the neighborhood. Inviting them and helping get them to activities is evangelism.
3. People Attached to the Church Who Never Joined
When invited to join or be baptized, they often respond enthusiastically. It's also life-giving to the person who makes the invitation.
4. Committed Christians from Similar Church Backgrounds
People move to town. They look for a church with a similar feel to the church previously attended.
5. Committed Christians from Different Church Backgrounds
These people must make a theological and usually a denominational shift. This often involves a conversion element because of theological differences.
6. People Raised in the Church Who Drifted Away
We know people who believe in God, have attended church in the past, but who are not committed to a congregation. They just drifted away, usually at a time of life change. They are likely to visit a church if someone says they love their church, or if they feel an urge during a life change, or if they are invited to a church event.
7. People Raised in the Church Who Were Hurt
There are plenty of "walking wounded" who no longer attend church: people who had bad experiences at church, burned out in leadership roles, felt they were judged by other members, have had a faith crisis because of a traumatic event, and even some who were so bored they gave up on church. They will visit a church if a trusted friend invites them.
8. Unchurched People Like Current Church Members
A growing number of people have little or no exposure to Christianity or churches. They were not raised in the church or baptized. Although they may think they are Christians, they are not. This includes millions of Americans, according to Reese. They are like members in terms of jobs, schooling and ethnicity.
9. Unchurched People Different from Current Church Members
Everything said about the previous group applies to this group, but they are different from most of your church's membership. Imagine a church of predominately upper-class African Americans evangelizing recent Chinese immigrants who have moved into the neighborhood. Imagine a blue-collar Caucasian congregation working with Hispanic attorneys and professors. It's challenging.
Reese says it's easier to get someone to join in the first group than the last group. In fact, she alls this an evangelism pyramid - as the pyramid gets skinnier near the top (#9), helping people connect with the church or become Christian becomes more engaging. But we need new people, new ideas, new hearts, new faith! Pray for our newbies, from wherever they come!