Stewardship is More Than Finances: A Bigger View

When we think about stewardship, we think primarily about money. That’s a good and right thing, because when we think and talk about money, we are patterning our messages after those of Jesus. When you look back to the recorded teachings of Jesus in Scripture, you find a surprising number of references to the subject of personal finance. That’s not because Jesus wants our money; it’s certainly not because He needs our money. It’s because Jesus is after our hearts, and He knows that the clearest window into what we truly love, desire and pursue is visible through our bank statements.

Think about it – Jesus could have set up anything as the primary competitor to God in our lives. He could have easily said something like, “You cannot serve both God and power,” or “You cannot serve both God and sex,” but instead He chose money: “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money” (Matthew 6:24).

Money matters, because the heart matters. So it’s good and right for us to think about stewardship in terms of money. At the same time, stewardship is not exclusively about money. Instead, it’s a holistic view of God as the owner, and we as His servants who have been entrusted with all kinds of resources, each of which provides an opportunity for the sake of the kingdom of God. So while we should think deeply about the money God has seen fit to flow into our lives, our view of stewardship cannot stop there. It’s got to be bigger.

In light of that, here are three neglected objects of stewardship for you to think about today:

1. Your home.

Hospitality was one of the hallmarks of the early church. These fledgling believers were marked by generosity not only in their money, but in the opening up of their homes to others, welcoming them in. Paul listed hospitality in his practical exhortations of gospel-rooted living (Rom. 12:9-13) and went on to say that hospitality is one of the characteristics that must be present in church leaders (1 Tim. 3:2). Our homes are a resource, and we should be joyfully generous with them. That can mean things like hosting a small group, but in a broader sense, it means asking the simple question of why God has given you the home you have in the neighborhood you have around the people who live there. If He has done so intentionally, the home is a resource that should be made much of.

Furthermore, when we practice stewardship through hospitality, we mirror the gospel. The word itself, hospitality, comes from a combination of Greek words – the word for “love” and the word for “stranger.” When we invite others in hospitably, we are loving the stranger, which is exactly what God has done for us. When we were enemies and rebels, strangers to the faith, God invited us into His home as His sons and daughters.

2. Your children.

This is difficult. It’s perspective changing to think that you, and I, are stewards of our children. In many ways, it’s easier to think of something like money or a home as resources for these are objects. But our children? This cuts to the core of who we are, and yet in this aspect of life, too, we are stewards. It is our responsibility to build into our children in such a way that they love and are active in God’s kingdom by His grace.

The psalmist gets at this idea in Psalm 127:3-4: Sons are indeed a heritage from theLordchildren, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth.They are arrows. The straightness of the arrow is determined by the skill of the warrior.” 

The children in this passage aren’t only pictured as a reward; they are seen by the psalmist as a weapon. As parents, our best opportunity to significantly impact the world might just be through our children. If we can raise them to be kingdom people, people who take great risks for Christ, and love Him more than they love their lives, then the world can be changed. They can change it, and I can change it vicariously through them. This is the great task that God has entrusted to us, the stewards of these children. We as parents have the greatest measure of influence as to how straight they are shot, and how sharp their blades are. We can raise them to understand the great purposes of the universe, and that a life given for those purposes is not one spent in vain.

3. Your pain.

Your story matters. So does mine. The experiences God has brought into our lives, painful though they may be, are an issue of stewardship, and as stewards, we have the choice about what we will do with our pain. Will we be turned inward and bitter because of it, or will it become another means by which God extends the gospel of the kingdom through us?

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, you see the progression of stewardship in our pain: Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

We experience pain. We are comforted uniquely by the God of all compassion and comfort. And then we in turn extend that comfort to others. In other words, we steward our pain through providing comfort to others who are in relatable circumstances. We extend the blessing of God’s comfort to all those who suffer so they, too, might experience the tears of a Savior who suffers alongside His brothers and sisters.

God has entrusted much to us, and our resources go well beyond money. If we want to be faithful, then, we must not only be so financially, but instead come to a holistic view of God’s ownership, and our stewardship, of all things.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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