What does stewardship mean?
Being a steward is different from being an owner. An owner of an object is the one who has ultimate authority over it in its use, its alteration, and even its destruction. A steward supervises something on behalf of their owner, and their authority over the object only goes so far as the owner has outlined. The way a steward may use or alter their master’s possessions are only acceptable within the master’s limits.
The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30, and if you have yet to read it, please pause reading this article and read the scripture section before resuming) is taken as a lesson on stewardship where Jesus tells His followers to consider how they can each be good stewards of the blessings and that God has given to them to forward His love towards the world.
Allow yourself to ponder this question regarding your own life- what things have you been given stewardship over?
What social relationships do you have? What resources have you been blessed with? What skills do you have? What time? What other “talents” might you have?
After considering that inventory, we then ought to ask ourselves whether we genuinely try to use these things for the purposes of bringing others closer to God. Are our relationships ones where we desire for the other persons’ welfare and where we help further them in their journey to know The Lord, or are they ones we only participate in as far as they benefit or indulge us? How about our resources? Are we, or would we be, willing to devote any of them to The Lord’s work of loving and saving the people of the world-especially the poor and needy- in some way? Are we willing and intentional about using our time or abilities to take active concern for others, beyond a basic obligation to do so?
Do not become defensive in reading this and think I am criticizing anyone, as I myself cannot answer these questions well anywhere near as often as I would like to say I could. I only pose these questions because they are ones that I believe all of us Christians should ask ourselves, even if they are ones that I find myself all-too-often unable to give preferable-or even decent- answers to.
I only want us as Christians to keep the concept of Stewardship in mind. What would happen if we chose to take ownership and responsibility of the blessings we have and saw them as holy opportunities? As openings into which we can shine the love of God in creative and passionate ways? Might we discover that there were people in our lives with pains and needs that we did not know about until we stepped out for the first time to have a deeper, more concerned relationship with them?
Might we find that we are capable of doing so much more good for those around us than we thought we could? Might we find that we could inspire hope and bravery and justice in people to degrees we did not imagine to be possible? I think that at least I would.
What would happen if all the churches in America, and all their congregants, decided to take stewardship for our communities on both the immediate-local and the broader-national, and then possibly on even the global levels? What if we saw ourselves as stewards of this world, given a charge here to heal and protect people for The Lord and to bring them into His light? What type of reconciliation would we see between people groups, what type of uplifting would we see for the vulnerable and needy, what type of heart change would we see in humanity, and how many more people would be inspired to meet Christ as their own personal Lord, Master and Friend?
Well, perhaps that is nothing more than a utopic dream.
But at least in our own lives, it does not have to be. Regardless of our powers to influence our entire world, we can at least take enthusiastic joy in the opportunity to steward our own small parts of the world for God’s saving purposes. Within those few things that we can influence, at least those talents we can multiply.
And I think that is what counts.