Written by Fred R. Gee
Do you cringe or tighten the grip on your billfold, purse, or checkbook at the mere mention of stewardship? Unfortunately, too many of us do tend to think of stewardship in terms of giving money and when our church or other organizations are asking for money. However, stewardship is about more than money and what we do with it and the causes and commitments we facilitate with our monetary gifts. Stewardship is a philosophy of life.
During my seminary days at Drake Divinity School, I was Nancy Dop’s minister. Recently, she brought me a bulletin from Fairview Christian Church found among her parent‘s things when they moved from their home to a senior facility. It was dated January 16, 1966. The sermon title that Sunday was: “Stewardship–Response to Life.” I do not have a copy of that old sermon, but I still have the philosophy indicated by the title. What I do have is a copy of the stewardship sermon I preached at First Christian Church on August 12, 2007. In that sermon I quoted my daughter’s pastor who affirmed in one of his pastoral columns that:
“Stewardship is everything we do with everything we have once we say we believe.”
Stewardship is a way of life; a way of life which honors God in our relationship to everything we own; everything entrusted to us; and everything and every one in the world around us. It is both the way and attitude with which we respond to God’s redemptive love, and the way we respond to and care for the world and the needs of persons and organizations around us.
I believe stewardship is:
- believing in possibilities and working to bring them to reality
- living out our values and beliefs in our personal and family lives and participating in communities and organizations which share our values and beliefs
- encouraging others to live out and support their values and beliefs
- getting involved–investing our time, talent, energy and our financial resources–in those possibilities and things we value
- dedicating our lives to making this world and our environment a better place in which to live
- establishing loving, caring, nurturing homes, neighborhoods, and communities
- living beyond ourselves and our time and place
All those verbs are active–far more active and participatory and supportive than merely writing a check or reaching into your pocketbook or billfold for cash or a credit card. Make no bones about it: money is vitally important. Churches, organizations, institutions, causes, movements cannot survive or be effective without it. But giving money is an easy way to say “yes” to things in which we believe and value. The harder, more important and rewarding way to respond with a resounding “yes” is self-investment. As Bill Moulder said several months ago, it’s getting “skin in the game.” It’s devoting ourselves to the cause. It’s voting with our feet. It’s getting our hands dirty for things in which we believe. It’s giving hands and hearts to what we value and others need.
You may think of some other active involvement cliches, but you get the idea. These phrases all express what it means to be good stewards beyond merely giving money. Stewardship is a way of life and a commitment to the work and joy of helping make the world and peoples’ lives better in our own unique ways with our own unique skill sets–and with our money.