I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word stewardship used outside of a faith setting. It could just be the circles I run in, but the word seems to be far more popular among Christians.
Furthermore, every time I do hear the word stewardships used, it’s almost always in reference to money. (And whenever you hear the words stewardship and money, usually Dave Ramsey’s name ends up being part of the conversation.)
When someone says they want to be a good steward, it’s usually implicitly understood that they are talking about their finances. But there’s so much more to living as a steward than being good with our money–though that is a super important part of it.
Nevertheless, the biblical understanding of stewardship is far broader of a topic than money.
What is Stewardship?
Whether you’re a follower of Jesus or not, you’ve acted as a steward at some point in your life. If someone has asked you to care for anything on their behalf, then you are a steward. Someone asks you to watch their kids, to house sit, or you ask to borrow their car. These are all examples of stewardship. You’re caring for something not your own.
The call to be good stewards has been around since the beginning of time. God had given Adam the garden to work and to keep (Genesis 2:15). God asked Adam to look after what he had created. He asked Adam to steward the land. And we see this theme of stewardship is all throughout scripture in both specific and subtle ways.
Our entire life is about stewardship, even the very air we breathe. It all belongs to God and we’re caring for it on his behalf. This is countercultural to our individualistic society. We are raised with the mentality that it’s all ours and we earned it. But that couldn’t be further from the biblical view of life. Which is why we seem to limit stewardship to money rather than seeing it as a way of life.
Here are a few areas where we’re likely claiming ownership rather than stewardship.
1. Gifts and Talents
It doesn’t matter who you are, God has placed specific gifts and talents within you. Just survey your family and friends. They are all uniquely gifted in different ways. Whether you have worked hard and refined your natural gifts or you have yet to tap into them, your gifts are not your own. They were given to you by God.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Whatever natural born talents you’ve been given, you are called to steward them well and not simply to use them for your own gain. Be mindful of the ways you are using your gifts. Be intentional about finding ways to use them for the glory of God.
For some, simply finding ways to use your gifts is the next step towards being a good steward. If you are given something and do absolutely nothing with it, then that’s not exactly stewardship. For others, you may need to evaluate the way you are using your gifts and see if you are using them to the glory of God.
That doesn’t always mean you have to use your gifts in a church setting, though I’m sure your local church wouldn’t mind you helping out in an area you were gifted for.
God built gifts into our DNA with the intention to serve others. In case you haven’t noticed, God cares a whole lot about people. And he delights in people caring for people. He cares about this so much that he actually created specific gifts and talents for each individual, so that they could better care for one another.
God is in the business of caring about people and that’s the kind of business we should be in.
Family has been cherished for thousands of years. We even have this saying about the unique connection of family: blood is thicker than water. Most people have a way of protecting their family and caring for them in ways they never would someone else. As a new mom, I can understand this a whole lot better than I ever could before.
Yes, family can be dysfunctional, complicated, and even downright toxic. But there’s something about family that makes you fight a little harder and love a little more. But sometimes we death grip our families as if they owe us something, and in many ways, like we own them. We feel entitled and we want them to feel obligated to us.
There’s nothing wrong with a healthy bond and deep connection to one another, but as much as it feels like we created our own families, we didn’t. They are gifts from God and our family members are first and foremost his children.
Even the gift of family is meant to be stewarded for the kingdom of God. As parents, we are called to care for our children and to raise them in the way of the Lord. We are to be good stewards of our role in our families.
This is by no means easy, especially for parents, because you pour everything into your children. But our desire for our children is not for them to need us forever, but rather, to be a good steward with the next generation of God’s people.
3. The Message of Jesus
“Go and tell” was just about everyone’s response in the New Testament when they were transformed by Jesus. The gospel is good news and it’s something we should want to share with everyone. The gospel was never meant to be kept to ourselves. It’s not a secret we protect until we die.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, he left his disciples with a mission. And that’s the same mission we have as followers of Jesus today. We have been charged to go out and share the good news of Jesus to the world. This is no small task and not one that any one person can do alone.
But I fear we’re often far more concerned with beefing up our own Christian walk than we are with sharing Jesus with people who are perishing. Salvation is a gift that was freely given. And it’s not like a gift we received five years ago and now have no idea where it is. It’s a gift that is meant to govern and guide our entire lives, one that needs to be shared with everyone we know.
We are called to be stewards of the gift of grace that was given to us.
4. And yes, our physical resources.
The resources we are given are not limited to money. In fact, money might not even be our most prized resource.
The one thing that seems to be more valuable than money is time. So we should view our time as something to be stewarded and not wasted. In the larger view of life, we only have so much time on the earth and what we do with it matters. But the stewardship of our life really is based on the accumulation of our hours and our days. How we spend our days matters.
There are other resources that have been given to us that we likely don’t view as something to be stewarded, such as our homes. Are you using your home all for yourself, instead of welcoming in people who are in need of relationship and Jesus? Every gift is an opportunity to give.
Everything we have is meant to be stewarded.
We truly have far more resources given to us by God than we even realize. So in what ways are you stewarding the resources given to you?