Do you agree with the statement that we have much more than we deserve? If you do, then you likely also agree it’s appropriate to take care of what’s been given to us! This concept is called stewardship. A sort of old-fashioned word that captures an important life principle.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to his service, you could not give him anything that was not in a sense his own already.”
Recently, I read about several important concepts Bill Peel, cofounder of Faith@Work Summit, used to describe stewardship. Reflecting upon those principles has stirred some of my own thoughts that I desire to convey here.
The Principle of Ownership
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (NIV). It’s critical to determine who we believe is in control of both what we possess and what we do with it. We must decide what “rights” we have as God’s children. And we must determine the level of independence we will exercise as we make all the decisions of our daily lives.
We at Q4 Impact believe it is all God’s, and we also believe it is ours as well. The tension these two statements create calls for regular consideration. Perhaps even wrestling with what it means to live this way. God has given us the freedom to live our lives as we see fit. He allows us to determine what we keep for ourselves and what we give away. Because of the freedom and independence we enjoy, it’s easy to lose sight of Who has truly provided all we have. When this occurs, it can often cause us to not responsibly care for all we have been given. That leads to the next point.
The Principle Of Responsibility
It is up to us to put principles, logic, and boundaries in place that will help us govern the responsibility we’ve been given. And what is that responsibility? To oversee and invest our time, talents, and resources wisely (see Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30). Sadly, I think almost all of us are guilty of not always allocating them well. We are all good at allocating what we believe is needed to take very good care of ourselves. At least I know I do a very good job at that.
But if we truly believe all we have belongs to the Lord, there must be something to guide us in the responsibility with which we’ve been entrusted. As a foundation, I propose the ongoing recognition that we have been bought with a price. And because of the sacrifice Jesus made, our lives now belong to our Savior. It is from this mindset we will begin to grasp the joy of exercising the freedom and control He has given us for His glory, and not our own. Yes, we still possess power, control, and management over what we possess. Yet only as we grasp that even these are from God, will we seek to honor Him with all we are and have.
We have been discussing responsibility as a noun, however, being responsible involves action. And such action includes the final principle of Stewardship about which I will write.
The Principle Of Accountability
A CEO of a public company is afforded much freedom in the way they oversee and manage their organization. Still, there is an awareness that they must give an account to the Board of Directors regarding their decisions. Though not perfect, this analogy helps us understand that the freedom God has given us to decide how to use our time, talents, and resources, will one day require giving an account for those decisions.
It makes me think of the question often asked of children, “If Jesus were standing beside you, what would you do?” As adults, we may chuckle, but wouldn’t we all benefit from remaining more conscious of the fact that “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” (Romans 14:12, NIV)?
Accountability is not meant to be burdensome or stir fear of reprisal. Even speaking about human authorities, the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 13:3, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended” (NIV).
The Principle of Accountability is intended to influence the way we live our lives. If we say we love God and believe His Word, is that reflected in the way we’re stewarding our lives and possessions? I believe it helps to ask less general questions. Questions that, if we’re honest with ourselves, often reveal areas of our lives perhaps not fully surrendered to God. For example, “Are we answerable to God about how we spend our money or how much leisure we enjoy?”
To close, our stewardship can be summarized by how willing we are to surrender to God’s will in every area of our life. Do we desire to please God in everything we have and do, inviting Him to be Lord of everything?
Yes, obeying what God asks of us may cost, but He is so deserving of everything we have and everything we are. Let’s ask ourselves the hard questions. Let’s determine to make a serious intention to live fully surrendered to God. As Paul so eloquently stated in Romans 12:1, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (KJV). That will guarantee we will be good stewards or managers of our lives and demonstrate to the world, Who’s really in control!