You may have heard people talking about the importance of Christian stewardship, but what does it really mean? How do we become good stewards and what does this even look like? The dictionary definition of stewardship is: “The job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property.” There are plenty of Bible verses that speak of the importance of Christian stewardship, which we will take a look at in a moment. What does God want us to steward well? Ourselves? Our planet? What else?
Take Care Of The Earth
We can go right back to the foundations of everything to see the calling that God gave to Adam and Eve: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). I remember as a teen at a youth event, that a pastor was speaking passionately about our job as Christians to care for the planet, and I’m ashamed to say I was left thinking “But what does that have to do with me?” As selfish as it may seem, sometimes when we hear worrying stories about global warming or read the sobering statistics, it feels too big or too intangible to care about somehow. Like, what can we do about it?
The Way We Live Matters
Psalm 24:1 reminds us that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Like Adam and Eve, God has called us to look after His precious earth. What an honor and a responsibility.
Everyone is called to be a good steward, and even though one life seems like just one drop in the ocean, the ocean is made up of drops. Romans 14:12 reminds us that “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” So whether you think it is a big deal or not, the way that we live matters. All of us.
We can make a difference with our lives: there are things we can do to change our carbon footprint. We can change the way that we shop and the way that we live. And it is these little, thoughtful changes, that all add up to a big change further down the track. This article from the UN highlights how easy it can be to add these changes to our lifestyles. Three of the easiest of these are to fly less, eat less meat and walk more. Easy right? It’s just taking time to adjust our lives a little. And over time, this will all help to shift the balance.
Stewardship Of Our Talents
“Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you.”
As a writer, I have sometimes questioned my calling, asking, ‘Is this really what You have called me to do? Are You sure I shouldn’t be doing something a bit more useful?’ And it is tempting to daydream of a job that makes way more money. But I was praying once about whether I should have chosen a more ‘sensible’ career path, and feeling foolish in the one I had chosen, and I felt that God said: “Actually you aren’t foolish, you are wise because you have listened to what I have put in you and have honed it.” Boom. That was all I needed to hear.
You can read more about stewardship of our talents in this parable that Jesus told in Luke 19:11–27.
Honor Him by Honoring Your Gifting
If God gives you something to do with your life, be it a vocation, a skill, a passion, then the way that you can honor Him is to honor that gifting in your life and turn yourself to it. No matter what those around you think. Let’s think back to the parable of the talents: if I bury what He has put in me in favor of the recognition and the praise of people in an unwanted career, then I do not trust His goodness to me. Instead, I will honor the gift, spend time on it, hone it and share it.
It’s all about whose eyes we look through. If no one lived with a passion that overcame all odds, then we would have no Van Gogh paintings to look at, no poems by Emily Dickinson, no works by Johannes Vermeer. Think about that for a moment. All of these artists were relatively unknown in their lifetime and died in poverty, having no idea about the legacy that they would leave.
Look After What You Have Been Given
So Christian stewardship is also about looking after what you have been given too. What is your talent, passion or gift? Have you kept it wrapped away in cloth or buried under the ground? Maybe it’s time to start investing in what you have been given. Don’t hide it away. Honor Him by honoring the gifting that is within you. Julia Cameron puts it this way:
“Many of us have made a virtue out of deprivation… We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish… But what we really want is to be left alone. When we can’t get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves. To others, we may look like we’re there. We may act like we’re there. But our true self has gone to ground.” (Julia Cameron; The Artist’s Way; Jeremy P. Tarcher / Putnam, 2002  (p.98))
Don’t let yourself (or your talent) go to ground; let it grow instead. (If you are struggling to know what your gifting or vocation is, then check out this blog post about praying over your life and the direction you are heading in at the beginning of a New Year.)
Christian Stewardship In Every Area
So we have looked at some of the Bible verses relating to Christian stewardship. We have looked at how that relates to looking after the earth, but also to every area of our lives, our talents and gifts. It also applies to our bodies – what we eat, the way we spend our time, and also to our work, money and creativity.
When we invite God into our lives, we don’t just invite Him into one part, He gets all of us! Ask Him now if there is any area of your life where you think there is something you could be doing differently? Think about these areas; looking after the earth, your work, your passion or gifts and your relationships.
All For Him
As Christians, we aren’t intended to live without making mistakes. Rather, we lay our lives down and as we make our way along the path, we hold everything in an open palm, asking God every now and then, “Is there anything I should be laying down?” and “Is there anything I should be picking up?” And that is the difference of a life lived by faith – that God is on the throne of our lives, not ourselves.
I’ll end on this verse that reminds us that our whole life is a gift for God, and we live for Him not for ourselves or for the praise of others:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24