Throughout my spiritual journey, there are certain concepts that have dominated my time and attention. When I was in high school, I was always processing the idea of worship. What is it? What is true worship in God’s eyes? How should we approach it?
When I got into college, it was the idea of grace and restoration. What’s the line in the sand between grace and personal responsibility? How does God go about restoring us? How can God use me after I’ve fallen?
Lately, God has been pressing the concept of stewardship on my heart. Growing up in the Baptist church, you usually only hear the word used in one context – financial giving. It’s the $250,000 word many pastors throw out there when they are giving their annual sermon on tithing your 10%. But stewardship is about much more than that. It is an attitude that says, “This isn’t mine.”
In spiritual terms, stewardship is the understanding that everything God has given us truly belongs to him and our job is to care for it. This goes much further than just tithing or giving to a mission organization. In fact, it doesn’t just apply to money. It is an attitude that should pervade our entire lives.
The call to stewardship actually begins in the creation story. When God decides to create us, this is what he says…
“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.”
So after creating the entire universe that we experience each and every day, something he has declared ‘good,’ he gives humankind the responsibility of caring for it. Not only is this a responsibility, but it’s also a tremendous honor! The problem is that our fallen nature often leads us to assume ownership of those things God has called us to be stewards of. As a result, we either squander them or we hold them tightly, protecting them above all else. There are seven areas in particular where I believe we need to be more mindful this call:
1. Your Spouse
The night before Holly and I met at the altar, I gave her dad a special gift. Since my 16th birthday, I had been wearing a “True Love Waits” ring as a reminder of my faithfulness to my future wife. Knowing that I was about to take Paul Crouch’s baby girl into my arms, I gave it to him during our rehearsal dinner. It was my way of demonstrating that I understand how precious his daughter is and my responsibility to love her as he had for so many years. In the same way, your spouse is a child of the King just as you are. He or she is ultimately his! This means you must continually cultivate God’s love in your spouse, building him or her up on a daily basis.
2. Your Kids
Becoming a dad has been one of the most eye opening experiences. I take so much joy in watching him transition from the baby he once was to the boy he is today and the man he will be in the future. I often have to remind myself that, as much as I love Caleb, God loves him even more. Even Caleb isn’t mine. He is chiefly God’s child and it’s my job to display his Heavenly Father’s love on a daily basis.
3. Your Friendships
Every relationship you’ve been given is an opportunity to pour into another person’s life. It’s a chance to mentor someone younger than you, be mentored by someone who is older, or mutually build up someone else. If you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t know Christ, it’s also an opportunity to make His love known in that person’s life.
4. Your Time
I’m a huge proponent of time management, whether it’s at home or in the office. Why? Because there are only so many hours in the day and it’s our job to make the most of them. The time God is giving us is there so we can bless him. While rest is important, we can’t waste our lives away on the things that, in the end, have no eternal value.
5. Your Dreams & Passions
Since feeling the call into ministry over 10 years ago, I’ve had a vision for my own organization that I’ve spent my entire career building towards. But even that vision is something God has laid on my heart, therefore it belongs to him. My job is to be faithful to it, managing my career and my future organization well. This means humbly learning as much as I can, being faithful to where I am in life, and always building towards the future.
6. Your Talents
God has built you both physically and intellectually with gifts and talents that no one else possesses quite like you. He designed you with them to bring glory to himself, not you. Are you good at sports? Awesome! Be the best you can be so you can glorify him in both your failures and your successes. Are you good at music? Great! Practice until you’re blue in the face or your fingers are bleeding. Put everything you have into it and when you perform, do it for God’s glory.
7. Your Possessions
Holly and I have owned our home for only a few months but after looking at our before and after pictures, we’ve realized just how much we’ve put into it. We believe God has given us this home and it’s with that conviction that we do everything we can to care for it, making it better than it was before. This is true of anything we possess. Take care of those things he has placed in your life and give thanks for the chance to enjoy them.