My recent Google search on stewardship of time, stewardship of talents, stewardship of the environment, and stewardship of money produced the most hits–27.1 million–for stewardship of time. This result didn’t surprise me because more articles, websites, blogs, discuss stewarding time than other resources on the internet. Today, many people realize that when they become more effective in available time, they will function better stewarding other resources.
What is Stewardship
Stewardship is using resources in the best interest of the owner of those resources. The first book of the Bible, Genesis 1, shows God completing creation of the heavens and the earth, establishing stewardship, and appointing His first steward, Adam. In Genesis 1: 26 (ESV): God said,
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Continuing, in Genesis 2:16-17 God provided boundaries for His steward: The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
Three Essential Parts of Stewardship
- Managing, but note, managing includes responsibility to respect the owner’s boundaries
- Accounting to the owner
Joseph’s role in Potiphar’s house shows these three parts clearly in Genesis 39:4: “So Joseph found favor in [Potiphar’s] sight and became [Potiphar’s] personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.”
Joseph understood the boundaries, respected them, but still was put in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Later in the New Covenant, Apostle Paul shows us in 1 Timothy 6:7-10 the stewardship attitude we need when we handle money.
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Stewardship is Serving Others with God’s Resources
But, I think Apostle Peter’s take on stewardship is the broader life application model we should ponder for our daily walk. In 1 Peter 4: 7-11, Peter writing to believers in exile, speaks to the heart of stewardship: servanthood.
“ The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
How are your Stewardship Efforts
How are you doing stewarding 168 hours weekly? What about stewarding your talents, the environment, money? Suppose you received a check for one million dollars tomorrow. How do you think it would affect your life? Would you feel victimized like Britain’s youngest lottery winner, 17 year old Jane Park who won $1.25 million four years ago? Today, the 21-year-old claims she was too young to handle the jackpot responsibly.
Park says, “At times it feels like winning the lottery has ruined my life. I thought it would make it 10 times better, but it’s made it 10 times worse. … Most days I say to myself, ‘My life would be so much easier if I hadn’t won.’” So, Jane Park is planning to sue lottery organizers for “ruining her life.” Talk about victim mentality!
Sadly, Park does not realize her problem is not age-related. According to National Endowment for Financial Education, about 70 percent of people who receive a windfall of cash suddenly, will lose it within a few years.
Contrast Jane Park’s attitude with Oseola McCarty’s. Quitting school in the sixth grade, for 87 years Miss McCarty washed other people’s dirty clothes. She never married, and never had children, and spent almost nothing from her 50 cents per wash-load income. However, over the decades, she accumulated more than $150,000, and gave $150,000 to finance scholarships at her local university.
So, what’s the main difference between Park and McCarty? Surely, not money, but their attitudes to stewardship.
Poor Stewardship can be Devastating
The Great Recession of 2008 is a classic example of the destructive effects of poor stewardship on people’s lives. Poor stewardship fuelled greed that became pervasive, not only by Wall Street people and regular business people, but by many church folks and many pastors.
Do you know how many people lost homes in the USA during the Great Recession and following? Over five million homes were repossessed, affecting over 10 million lives! All because of a combination of people’s poor choices, and manipulation by banks and financial institutions.
Folks, effective stewardship is merely a way of living. Author Peter Block says stewardship is a choice: It’s choosing service over self interest. To be sure, stewardship is an attitude we choose that’s independent of how much money we earn, how talented we are, or our position in an organization.
But stewardship needs a deep foundation to be effective. We can’t do it on our own. That why it is the third pillar of three pillars we need to handle time, talents, and all resources effectively to bring glory to Messiah.
First Stewardship Pillar
The first pillar, a personal relationship with Messiah, recognizes our need for a Saviour and our need to submit to His Lordship over our lives. When we turn over our lives to Messiah, Holy Spirit will lead us to do good works and let Jesus’ light shine through us.
However, we can’t stop at the first pillar because our journey would be incomplete. Indeed, when I lived in Tokyo and my Japanese teacher surrendered her life to Messiah, she told my wife, Bell-san, now I need training. Yes, we need training.
After cementing this first pillar, we must continue our journey to learn to practice effective stewardship by studying to be disciples of our Messiah.
Second Stewardship Pillar
The second pillar, discipleship, builds on the first pillar, and is the never ending journey of learning to live the way God wants us to live.
But we must never forget Messiah’s message in Luke 14:25-33: He tells us there is a huge cost to become His disciple. We must think about it deeply, and count the cost before accepting his call to be his disciple. The warm-fuzzy-feeling Gospel we hear in many churches and on TV is not from the Lord. It’s from wealthy evangelists who want your money.
The promise we have from Messiah is that we must be prepared to give up everything to be His disciple. So, when times get rough, we should not be surprised, but look to God for His solution in the situation. Usually, our solutions will fail. Today, everybody wants to remove their challenges instead of embracing them to see lessons Messiah prepared in them for us.
Whatever position we hold in society today, leaders, managers, students, we must understand that we have a stewardship role that we need to discharge daily. We must seize every opportunity to learn and practice regularly Messiah’s love, joy, compassion, mercy, discipline, humility, teachability, and grace.
Many folks will say, “I have no time” to do everything I need to do. I agree; you can’t do everything you want to do in the fixed available time. Yet, Apostle Peter reminds us in 2 Peter 1:3 that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Do you believe?
It’s important we find ways under Holy Spirit’s guidance to do our priorities in available time; to choose what to do, what not to do, and what to defer for a defined period.
Selective Neglect Helps you Become More Effective in Available Time
One effective stewardship approach for me that I mention in my book Managing God’s Time is Selective Neglect, which I practice under Holy Spirit’s guidance regularly. It’s built on seven premises:
- I can’t do everything I want done, and others want me to do; so I do not try to do everything
- But, I must be excellent in everything I do
- And, I must be on time always because that’s an important appointment to join Messiah at work
- So, I must learn when to say no, when to say yes, and when to say not now
- Most of all, I can’t be effective on my own; I must lean totally on Holy Spirit
- My Lord and my wife are priorities in my life, everybody and everything else comes after them
- I will have a weekly Sabbath rest (usually Sunday afternoons), and a weekly meeting-free day
To do selective neglect effectively, I must do the following:
- Count the cost and pray, before accepting every task
- When I say yes, I must do what I say in the time I agreed
- If I cannot do something I agreed to, I must advise the person with enough time for him or her to look for an acceptable alternative
- I must be ready to manage negative effects of saying no
Let’s remember we have Holy Spirit in us to help plan our schedules. Let’s remember, too, that when we rush constantly, fail to do what we say, are late for meetings, we are ineffective, become a poor witness, and expose Holy Spirit to this sloppiness, which is not doing our best always for the Lord.
As we progress in our on-going discipleship training, the reality of God’s ownership and our stewardship will become increasingly apparent.
GAS Principle is the Embodiment of Stewardship
Over 20 years ago, I developed an acronym to help me practice proper stewardship under God’s guidance — The GAS Principle:
- God owns everything (Psalm 24:1)
- Accept what we have, who we are and where we are (Hebrews 13:5)
- Seek first His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33) and submit our requests to Him (Proverbs 19:21)
The GAS Principle helps to recall that stewardship is a privilege God has granted to His children. It’s not a right! I pray you build this practice in your daily activities.
The freedom that comes from good stewardship is possible because the stewardship pillar is built on the solid foundation of pillar number one, a vibrant relationship with Messiah Jesus, and on pillar number two, a growing and continuing journey of discipleship.
Five Needed Choices to help you Practice Effective Stewradship
I encourage you to choose to do these five items to help you practice effective stewardship regularly:
- Unbalance your life and place Messiah at the pinnacle (Matthew 22: 36-40). Living a balanced life means you want to have it all. That’s the lie of the world. We must choose what’s more important, do those items first, and realize we won’t be able to do everything.
- Review your activities in a typical 168 hour week and plug time drainers (2 Peter 1:3). Based on my research, I am confident you will find at least 14 hours of leakage in the week. Ask the Lord to help you redeem those hours.
- Daily, reserve at least one hour for a “meeting” with you where you do your own agenda under God’s guidance (Luke 5:16). Jesus withdrew often to pray to His Father.
- Set aside at least three consecutive hours as a weekly Sabbath to rest, relax, reflect, recharge (Hebrews 4:6-11). Your batteries need recharging regularly.
- Embrace every situation God brings your way, do your best, and look for Him in the difficulties (Psalm 23). Difficulties are learning stations to help us deepen our walk with Messiah Jesus who does not promise health, wealth, and material prosperity.
© 2017 Michel A. Bell