Words of My Life: Steward
Every other summer most of our U.S. ministry staff head to summer projects around the nation and world, then to Colorado for a biannual staff conference. They could be gone for 3-8 weeks.
They have great concern for the homes, pets, vehicles and other possessions they are leaving behind. They want to be stewards of all that is theirs, so they often seek to find someone to house sit and pet sit. They look for someone they can trust who will be good stewards of their valued possessions.
That’s pretty much what God has done. He created this magnificent planet we call home—an earth of astounding beauty and richness. Then he entrusted the care and nurture and supervision of it to men and women. Such as you and me.
The earth and all its inhabitants. Our responsibility. And for those who know God, he identified even more shepherding responsibilities:“Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you.” (1 Peter 5:2)
“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:14)
Look at some of what God has entrusted to us:
WE STEWARD THE EARTH
This was the first assignment God gave us. How have we done? Not so well, though we are taking many large and small steps as nations and governments, communities and corporations and small businesses. As individuals we must also make choices to preserve and protect our homes, our communities, our environment.
WE STEWARD FINANCES
Usually when we talk of stewardship, we think of finances—and that is an important trusteeship. Wisdom and restraint are called for as we spend, save, invest, and generosity is appropriate for giving. We could say a lot more about this in another post.
WE STEWARD OURSELVES
As leaders are especially responsible for our lives. Most of us don’t have much trouble giving attention to self care. We want to grow and develop. We take assessments to determine our strengths and gifts. We look for opportunities to stretch and strengthen those gifts and skills.
Often we are doing this just to improve and advance. But this is an appropriate stewardship of the person God made us to be and the good works He has prepared for us to do. He gives us what we need, but we must work to grow.
We also need to take care of our bodies—which are God’s temple. As I’ve gotten older, I have confirmed the reality: All the ways I didn’t care for my body come back to demand attention.
WE STEWARD OUR RESPONSIBILITIES
So you’ve just been given a big new assignment. You need to evaluate how the team has done, firm up vision and mission, determine some measurements. And bring the project back under budget.
You go to work. You want to plan well, make good use of your resources, help the team to work together and accomplish the task. You want to be a good steward of this responsibility. And the same for the next assignment, whether large or small.
Jesus Himself said: “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” (Matthew 25:23)
WE STEWARD OUR PEOPLE
My daughter was a part-time intern with a youth ministry for two years. Her supervisor is still a hero to me. He had about six young interns on his team, and he was incredibly intentional at helping each one have broad ministry experiences and opportunities. My daughter led a small group, spoke at the citywide meeting, planned a retreat, taught basic training and started the ministry on a campus. In that job she gained ministry skills, but also a strong understanding of her gifts and strengths.
One of my most important responsibilities as a leader is the stewardship of the people God entrusts to me. Those people could report to me at work, or serve with me on a church committee or be partners for a sports team—or be my family. If I influence them in any way, I have responsibility to contribute to their development in small or large ways.
Of course, they carry the major weight for their own growth, but I bear a charge for training, opportunities, feedback, challenge and encouragement. I seriously want every person on my team to become who God created them to be and improve in their skills and contributions. So I must be a wise steward of the people in my life.
WE STEWARD THOSE CLOSEST TO US
Some of those people are in my family. When my children were young I did what I naturally did: I made a plan--a plan for how my husband and I could help ensure our children would be encouraged and equipped to become the women God created them to be. We developed a guideline filled with ideas.
Why a plan for 2- and 4-year-old girls? Because we had a strong sense that, since God had entrusted these daughters to us, we had a calling to be good stewards of their lives. As parents we had a lot of say and sway over their lives. We wanted to make sure we were attentive to how God had made them and how to help them discover that for themselves.
We looked at different areas of life: spiritual, character, social, intellectual, creative, physical, financial, heritage. We listed ideas of different approaches and activities to stimulate growth.
Sometimes we scheduled specific activities to encourage development: soccer team, art and music lessons, “field trips,” family devotions. We had lots of books and read together every day. Art supplies abounded. Mostly we stayed alert to opportunities for “learning moments.”
Periodically we would review how we and they were doing, making adjustments, refocusing, being intentional about ways to be good stewards of these precious treasures. And of course as the girls grew, the plan changed.
My husband and I also have taken seriously our stewardship responsibilities for each other. We are committed to contributing in many ways to the growth and development and effectiveness of the other.
My husband is my greatest fan. He thinks I can do almost anything (as long as it doesn’t involve math or fixing things). He speaks affirming words to me. He encourages me to try new things, to accept challenging opportunities. He brainstorms ideas with me. He listens to my dreams and hopes and fears and failures.
Then he puts feet to it: He often kept the children so I could pursue ministry opportunities. When I was writing a book, he took on more home responsibilities. Because he is a natural picker upper, and I am not, he takes care of the clutter I leave. He prays for me.
In the same way, God has enabled me to be a good steward of my husband. It’s not hard—I am amazed at his intelligence and giftedness and leading skills. I am even more in awe of his humility and his wisdom. So I can readily affirm him and encourage him in his work and ministry.
He often asks me how he did in speaking or teaching, or how to improve something he has written. I am a natural editor, and he constantly looks for feedback. I have the privilege of helping him see how he could do something better.
This is just a quick look at some of the areas God has given us to steward. Understanding what an important assignment this is has made steward a significant word of my life.
I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful steward.”
What about you? What are stewardship opportunities for you?
C2015 Judy Douglass