Whether you’re making $100,000 or $10,000 per year, at some point, you received resources from someone else to help you establish your current life. In other words, you weren’t born with money in the bank; your family managed their resources well enough to provide for you. They utilized their money in a way that brought value and support into your life.
At its core, stewardship is all about managing resources you’ve been given in a way that glorifies God and respects others. It is also much easier said than done! With technological and cultural advancements like smartphones and Amazon Prime, you have to work even harder to remain focused stewards of the money God has given you. Below are three “Es” that will help you be a more effective steward.
Embrace the definition of stewardship
In order to embrace the definition of stewardship, a good starting place is defining the word. Stewardship is about managing resources as though someone else entrusted you with them, specifically God. Unlike God, we all came from somewhere, which means everything we have comes from somewhere, too. God loves us so much that He trusts us with possessions and gifts, and guides us through His word on how to use these responsibly.
One analogy for stewardship is utilizing a rental car. When you plunk cash down for a specified time range, the company entrusts you to use the car in a respectful, courteous, and mindful manner. They still walk you through an overview of terms and offer to answer your questions, but they provide you a powerful vehicle in exchange for the agreement that you won’t damage the car or otherwise misuse it.
A second analogy is that of a babysitter. When looking for a babysitter, the parents often determine the hire by seeking online reviews, testimonials, and personal conversations before the work begins, if possible. These factors indicate what kind of character the babysitter has, and how well they act as a positive influence over children. Parents would only entrust their children to an individual they feel represents their own interests equally well. God uses us to represent His interests; this is a serious honor!
Examine what you’re able to steward in your current season
When we talk about stewardship, you may be reminded of the idea of tithing. Tithing is managing your resources in order to provide for yourself and family while being able to give back to God a tenth of your earnings. We get tithing directly from the Bible, where the first example comes from Abram’s response to God’s blessing in Genesis, after defeating four enemy kings.
Tithing is an excellent place to begin, especially if you’re new to the concept of stewardship, or need a manageable goal to adopt. In most cases, tithing becomes much easier when you have a budget created and can automate the process. Willow Creek also has a great tool called PushPay that simplifies the giving process.
If tithing presently causes strain on your monthly income, fear not. 2 Corinthians 9:7 reminds us that “each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” God desires that you are willing and able to give on a regular basis. This means far more to Him than disgruntled charity. We often encourage those not currently tithing to start by giving a specified percentage of their income, and working towards giving the full tithe in the future.
If you are able to give more than 10 percent regularly, wonderful! Giving generously often deepens your relationship with God, so be prayerful about where you may direct the additional giving.
Express your gratitude for what God has done in your life
Focused, intentional stewarding goes far beyond giving money. 1 Peter 4:10 speaks well to the full scope of stewardship: “based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.”
The beautiful part about stewardship is it’s not limited to finances; relationships, skills, and time can all be stewarded as well. Out of a grateful heart comes powerful actions, and God is deeply pleased when His children desire to go above and beyond. Think about a few ways in which you could bless the lives of family, friends, or strangers by making a meal, spending time in much-needed conversation, or offering to help fix something that’s broken.
Stewardship is a deep honor – the responsibility to manage what you’ve been entrusted with. Through the honor of stewardship, God gives each of us challenges to rise up to, meaning we ought only to focus on the duty in front of us – not anyone else’s. Matthew 25:21 says it best: “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!”
Written by Financial Stewardship Volunteer Brad Johnson.
To learn more about upcoming Willow stewardship classes, click here.