Stewardship is a word that tends to pop up about this time of year. To some of us it can be negative, meaning only capital campaigns, expectations, guilt, and/or pressure toward opening our wallets. How can a word that has represented God's trust in us cause so much squirming in the pews?
Tell you what, in order to better understand Stewardship, how about taking a trip back to medieval times. Castles and lands were typically owned by Lords (and Kings in a larger region). Wealth of the Lord was largely based on the amount of land owned and the bounty of harvests. But, as you can imagine, sometimes Lords had to be away doing whatever Lords did: military service, managing another property, sailing off for adventure. So they left the responsibility of their wealth with a Steward, an administrative official who oversaw the affairs of the Lord while they were away. They didn’t own any of it, yet were in charge of seeing that everything was taken care of and managed well.
In modern terms, it would probably be best to describe the position of Steward as an Asset Manager. Picture someone owning “assets”, money is perhaps the easiest to picture, passing control of them to an Asset Manager trusting that they will manage it well. What would you look for in a good Asset Manager?
Jesus tells His followers the “Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25:14-30. The story unfolds with a man leaving some money in the hands of his servants or, by the definition we are examining, Asset Managers. One he gave 5 talents, another he gave 2, and still another a single talent. Now these were significant sums. Some commentaries say a talent was worth 20 years of a laborer’s pay! When the man returned he commended the first two for putting the money to good use saying, “Well done.” The third Asset Manager failed to make a return on any investment because of fear and his talent was given to the first.
It is an important shift to recognize that God owns everything and we are merely His Asset Managers. Our time is God’s. Our gifts or talents are God’s. Our “hard-earned” money or treasures are His. It is through what we do with these “assets” that shows God’s character in our lives and extends God’s hand to the world around us. For me, this adds purpose to things like balancing my checkbook or how I spend my free time. Let the fact that we are Stewards of the riches of the Creator of the Universe embolden and empower you to live for God as never before.