Half way through my career I made a major change by changing departments. The department I went to (IT) was like another world, including having its own entire language that I was unfamiliar with. One of the words that was used often was “component”. I was familiar with stereo or car components, for example, but the way it was used in IT was different. It was used to describe a team, unit or piece of work. Responsibility for a component was given to what was referred to as a component steward.
But what is stewardship? R.C. Sproul has written that the concept in the New Testament that describes and defines what it means to be a servant before Christ is the word “stewardship”. Don Whitney goes further and writes that stewardship is the care and management of that which belongs to another. He tells us that while we often speak of things as “ours,” the reality is that all that we have and all we are belongs to another – God.
Whitney tells us that one of the classic passages on stewardship is Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-27). In that parable, the master rewards those who stewarded well the resources he committed to their care, and he punishes those who did not.
David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby, and Bill High, in their recent book Leadership Not by the Book write that God is the owner of all things, and we are simply his stewards. If we look at stewardship as the care and management of that which belongs to God, we can ask:
What are the resources that God has blessed us with, and how have we stewarded them?
Let’s look at this subject briefly in the following six categories:
Our Finances. If you are a member of a church, you may be familiar with the term “stewardship campaign”. Often times we hear this in connection with a building program. Many are familiar with the concept of a tithe (ten percent of your earnings). During a stewardship campaign, we are often encouraged to give more than our tithe to the effort, a building program, for example. How we use the finances that God has blessed us with is important. Hebrews 13:16 says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” God is very generous.
Our Gifts and Talents. We are all blessed with different gifts and talents. Some of us are blessed with the gift of leadership, while others have the skills of being an electrician or plumber. Whatever our gift or talent, rather than building our own platform and “making a name for ourselves”, we should use them to honor God and serve others. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
Our Time. We are all given the same amount of time each day. How we use that time is important. Do we look for opportunities to grow in our knowledge of God and serve others, or do we spend it focusing on ourselves by playing video games or binge-watching the latest Netflix series? In Ephesians 5:15-17 we are reminded to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Our Home. Whether you live in a large home, condo, or apartment, your home is a gift that has been given to you and can be used to serve others in hospitality. See 1 Peter 4:9.
Our Vehicle. As we drive around town, we will at times see people walking back home carrying groceries in cold weather, or others waiting in the cold at a bus stop. If you have reliable transportation, you shouldn’t take it for granted. How can it be used to serve others? Hebrews 13:2 – “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Our Team or Business. As a leader, I knew that I was blessed to work with a group of people for just a short time before either they or I would move on to another assignment. The team was not mine; I was just stewarding it. The same goes for you if you “own” your business. You are not really the owner of it, it belongs to God. You are stewarding it. Remember Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
R.C. Sproul has written that we are to give ourselves to God as living sacrifices. This means we are to give our time, our energy, and our very selves to Him as acts of worship and gratitude. But we must always be aware that God has given us these and all things
We could go on to mention other items we steward, such as our families. What other thoughts might you have about the concept of stewardship?