stew•ard n. 1. One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs.
Stewardship. It’s one of those words that can either mean so little, or mean so much. It’s an odd word, kind of an antiquated and “churchy” word. But the idea behind that word can go right to the heart of who we are as people. Now normally, I’m guessing when you hear “stewardship” you think, “giving money to the church”. And yet, while giving monetarily is how the term “stewardship” is usually understood, I personally feel that stewardship of time and work is more important than any financial giving. A small definition of financial giving relegates stewardship to just a small corner of our lives
Stewardship is ultimately more than how much money you give to the church. It is also how you spend all of your money. It is more than giving your time or work to the church. It is also how you spend all of your time and work. Stewardship is an all-encompassing reality. I have slowly begun to see everything in life, from my money to my environment to my body to my very soul as a gift from God. And if everything is a gift, and stewardship involves how we use God’s gifts, then stewardship involves how we use everything. Stewardship can be broadened to include physical fitness, what we eat, where we shop, where we go on vacation, how much TV we watch, what careers we go into, everything.
However, it is difficult to break out into the fullness of this understanding of stewardship. There is simply too much built up behind the definition of stewardship as the giving of money. It seems like every time we talk about stewardship, even in conversations that do address all areas of life, the “giving money” aspect somehow stands out a little more, takes a little more prominence. I know that I certainly project my limited practical understanding of stewardship onto all of my interactions with the term.
You see, money is the primary way of giving value to something in our culture. If someone hurts you, the courts can make them pay you money. We rank people based on their net worth and we idolize those at the top. We look at our bank accounts to judge how well we’re doing in life. But you know what? One of the blessings of the Christian Gospel is that we do not receive our value based on money. This is a key counter-cultural issue for Jesus. Just open up the Gospels and chances are you’ll find him talking about the dangers of money, rather than its blessings. Can we as a community follow Jesus down this path, and come to see stewardship as something more than just financial giving?