Being a Good Steward
Stewardship is a super biblical and old-timey word. It’s one of those terms that sounds like it should be coming from your local elderly pastor or minister, not from a twenty-something millennial trying to relate with people her age. It belongs with its friends – discipleship and fellowship. Is it just me, or can you smell those dusty old purse mints too?
And what’s with the “ships”? That’s a suffix I don’t get. Workmanship, relationship, spaceship. There’s more, I think. Pretty much add the word “ship” to the end of a word, and there you have it! A noun. A subject. A direct or indirect object. Welcome to the world of do-it-yourself English.
Anyway, being a good steward is personally important to me because it speaks loudly about who I am and who I’m becoming. Even if you’re not into the spirituality of it all (although I definitely think you should be), this is a characteristic that sets you up for a fulfilling life – for you and the people you’re around.
According to Dictionary.com, stewardship is “the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.” To break it down, it basically means protecting the goods. These goods aren’t just material things either, like money or possessions (even though they’re included in my version of the definition). They’re also things like time, talents and abilities, opportunities, good health, and so on. Looking at things from my world view, these are all gifts that come from God. Nothing I have has been earned solely by my own efforts. It’s all been given to me, and for that I’m thankful.
One way to show my thankfulness is to take what God’s given and do better with it. If you’re familiar with Bible stories, you’ll probably remember the parable of the talents. Back then, talents were used as a measurement of money. When I read this story, I think of literal talents – ballet dancing, piano playing, or joke making. It can go both ways, though, because the message remains the same. The Bible is like that most of the time – different interpretations can take you to the same place. If you’d like to read it yourself, check out Matthew 25:14-29.
Buckle yourself in for the short version: Basically, a rich man goes off to take care of business in a faraway land. He leaves three of his servants varying amounts of his wealth, trusting them to keep it protected to the best of their ability. He ends up returning to two servants who took their original amounts and doubled it, making wise decisions with money they were tasked to keep. The rich man rewarded these two servants with even more responsibility. By giving their boss a massive return on his investment, they proved their maturity and value as workers.
The other guy… not so much. He went and hid the money under his mattress, afraid to do anything with it. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe he thought his boss wouldn’t notice, or maybe he thought the amount given was so insignificant that it wouldn’t make a difference. His boss didn’t think so! When this guy returned the goods unchanged, the rich man blew up. The least the servant could’ve done was put the money in a bank so it could have earned a little interest! But he didn’t even do that. Summed up, the rich man took his investment back, kicked the guy out, and gave the money to one who already proved his value.
So, we know God isn’t our boss. But if you consider yourself one of His servants, this message definitely applies to you. In the most obvious sense, if we don’t take what God has given us and use it for His glory, it’s pretty much a waste. It’s not valuable. That doesn’t mean that we have to prove our value in order to gain His grace or salvation – not in the slightest. But why would God bless a person who doesn’t care? Why would a father keep showering gifts on a child who won’t use them?
I want to be a good steward because I want to make His influence obvious to the world around me. You can be a good steward for whatever reason you want! Either way, doing good with what we have will only lead to positive outcomes.
If I protect my finances by being mindful and intentional about when to spend, how much I save, and where to invest, I’m being a good steward of the money I’ve been given (through my job or other means).
If I protect my health by making smart food choices, going for check-ups, taking vitamins, and exercising, I’m being a good steward of my body (it’s a temple, y’all).
If I protect my brain by filtering out the negativity, reading, or learning new things, I’m being a good steward of my mind (AKA my operating system).
If I protect my skills by cultivating, practicing, and sharing them with others, I’m being a good steward of my talents and abilities (and shining my light).
It all comes down to this: Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Use it to make a difference! It will probably start small, but know that small beginnings don’t always have to equal small endings. The servant with the least never did anything with what little he had, and he ended up totally empty.
We all have something to start with. If you can handle a little, you’ll end up with more and more.