As I was cleaning the bathrooms this morning I contemplated stewardship. Wikipedia has a good definition of stewardship: an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. I was raised by Christian parents who both embodied, modeled, emphasized, and taught me about being a good steward of the resources that God had given us. I have implemented those lessons in my own life as an adult, and am now passing them down to my own children.
Stewardship is a practical way to live out our theology. How so? Well, the Bible tells us that every good gift is from God (James 1:17). It also tells us in Psalm 24:1 that the whole earth and all that is in it belongs to God. So, everything we have is a gift from God, and ultimately belongs to Him. When we are good stewards of the things that God has entrusted to us, we are honoring Him and showing Him our gratitude for His many blessings.
I’ve written before about how many times we Christians can be at a loss of how to begin with serving the Lord. There is a tendency to think of the ‘big’ things like going to a foreign country as a missionary, but not everyone is called to do that. Everyone is called however, to be good stewards. If you are like me you like practical, simple steps that can be incorporated into our everyday lives. Lucky us! Stewardship is exactly that. The most basic way of being a good steward is to simply take good care of the things that you have. When we are good stewards with our possessions, oftentimes we then have opportunity to put money or resources toward the Lord’s work, rather than having to prematurely replace things due to lack of care.
I’ll use my vehicle as an example. We bought my minivan in 2003, it was brand new. I believe it had 73 miles on it. We have made sure to have the oil changed every five to seven thousand miles, as is recommended by the manufacturer. This requires stewardship of finances to ensure that there is money to do those oil changes. We have had the tires rotated or changed as needed. I regularly wash and vacuum out the van. I taught the children not to slam the doors and to be careful not to open them into other cars in the parking lot. We use our van a lot, but we are not unnecessarily hard on it. Because we have taken good care of the vehicle the Lord enabled us to purchase, it is running well and has been serving us for almost 14 years! I will be driving it for many more, I hope.
This can be applied to anything that belongs to you: your home, clothing, furniture, electronics, etc. It is also a simple enough concept to teach to young children. Training your children to be good stewards is a lifelong discipline that will serve them well. It will also help you, as they take good care of things that you have purchased. When presented to them as a way we honor the Lord, you are also investing in their spiritual development. It is a win-win.
Stewardship is not just about material possessions. We also should be good stewards of things like our time, our talents, and our children. Time management is a great way to be a Christian witness in your workplace. Your status as a believer should show in your work ethic, working hard as unto the Lord. Manage the resources, material or otherwise, that have been entrusted to you at work in a way that brings honor to the Lord. If your fellow workers or boss know that you are a Christian, this outward display of stewardship will validate that claim to them.
If you are a parent, investing in your children that the Lord has blessed you with is a great way to practice stewardship. Children are not a burden, but one of God’s greatest blessings. The Bible gives us the general principle: train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (proverbs 22:6). This begins with spiritual training. Teaching them God’s word and applying it to your lives as a family. Spend time and build your relationship with your children. Jesus cares very deeply for children, and so should we.
My intent with this article, and the personal examples I gave are not intended to burden anyone. Rather, I hope to have given you some practical ideas and ways to begin honoring the Lord by being good stewards of the resources He has blessed you with. You can begin with ‘baby steps’ and expand your practice of stewardship over time. The nice thing about stewardship is that it is pretty limitless. I doubt any of us will run out of ways in which to show the Lord our gratitude through being good stewards!
Soli Deo Gloria!