“Every single person on the face on the planet is created in God’s image. Everybody has capacity, talent, and ability… Everybody has stewardship responsibility.”
– Rudy Carrasco, Effective Stewardship
I love this quote from Rudy Carrasco. It reminds me God has gifted us with his image. And innate in that privilege is a responsibility to bear it well – to use it the same way He does. It’s true that each of us is in a different season of life. Each has enjoyed, or endured, different experiences. Each has been entrusted with a unique combination of time, talent and treasure. But, essentially, we are all stewards – overseers of a great gift.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines stewardship as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” However, we often underestimate the value of the life and influence God entrusts to our care. Ultimately, the gift-giver will want to know what we did with His generous present. With that in mind I ask, do we see everything in our hands as a seeds of hope and potential? If so, are we planting those seeds in expectation of a fruitful life?
Not that it is always easy. For instance, my current season of life includes stewarding my two young children: David, 4, and Ruby, who isn’t quite 2 years old. They’re undoubtedly amazing – easily my favorite people. However, they are still normal kids. And, of course, in many ways I’m a normal parent. So, amid the shrillest screams and most piercing cries I need to remind myself of the unfathomable promise that lays in their young lives. I have to see beyond their temporary normalcy, past my own even, and remember that I’m a steward called to take care of their childhood in a manner that bears fruit for their adulthood.
A stewardship approach to life requires a shift in perspective. A steward focuses on what he or she has rather than what they don’t have. As a dad I could focus on not having two grown children who have great jobs and bring me chocolates on the weekend. Ironically, if I did so, the two children I actual have would have a smaller chance of growing into those future adults. If I want to see growth, I have to focus on David and Ruby exactly where they are, as they are.
This concept is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian worldview. Exodus 4 gives us a clear example of the concept. Moses was on the lam, hiding in the desert while the children of Israel toiled as slaves to Pharaoh. Though God could have acted on his own in the situation, He chose to partner with his steward, Moses. And God started the process of Isreal’s rescue with a simple question: “Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ (Exodus 4:2, NIV)”
This is the basic concept of “asset based development,” a philosophy that encourages us to when we approach development with a focus on the assets rather than the needs of a community. The essence of the PovertyCure message is that when an individual is free to steward what he or she has in their hands, they will see it grow. As our statement of principles puts it,
We are stewards of creation with freedom and responsibility. The earth is a gift to be developed responsibly. The stewardship approach to creation encourages holistic and sustainable development. Stewardship theology cautions us against crass and hedonistic exploitation of the natural realm. Likewise, it warns us away from viewing nature as divine, or the earth as a sanctuary to be left undeveloped.
Pastor Erissa Mutabazi, the Rwanda Country Director for Hope International, makes this point succinctly in a video devotional entitled “What’s in Your Hands?”. In it, Pastor Mutabazi states, “We can’t help but ask, what will happen if, instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we consider what God has already given us… our talents, our dreams, our motivations, and offer them back to him as an act of worship.”
God has called us to be stewards of his creation and to not underestimate what we have in our hands. In an effort to apply that truth more deliberately, I recently went through the exercise of writing a life plan based off the book, Living Forward, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. I cant’ recommend it highly enough.
Another excellent resource is Effective Stewardship. In this five-session video study, hosted by Dave Stotts, you will learn how to think critically and biblically about the areas of responsibility that God has entrusted to you.
Again, as Pastor Mutabazi says, “God has given each one of us gifts and he invites us to use them, no matter how small they may seem. We serve a God who fed thousands on five loaves and two fish, … imagine what might happen if a movement of Christ followers use the gifts God has given to bring healing into a broken world.”
So, what do you have in your hands that you will accept the challenge to be a better steward of? Let us know in the comments to be entered to win this week’s prize!