Stewardship has been my word for this year. I’m really trying to grasp what that means. I understand what a steward is, but for some reason I have a huge mental block on how to apply that to my life. We spoke in our last podcast about this and AJ made some interesting points.
One, is that this is a term that has been tossed around a lot. It makes sense because it aptly describes the life of a Christian. The issue is that the word has been applied to so many things that it is almost meaningless. Its that whole idea of, “if everything is special then nothing is.” Another point AJ made that resonated with me was that the majority of our training on how to understand the world is through the lens of Capitalism. Stewardship is not the anthesis of capitalism, but they have different natures. One is focused on how can I get the most out of something and the other is concerned with how I can get the most for someone else. Those two principals can interact in a healthy way if our hearts are properly ordered. The last piece that struck a cord with me is this 3 question process on how to approach your stewardship. I’m not sure AJ realized he was dropping a model, but that’s what happened. I want to go through that here.
First question: What do I have?
This is a tough question because I think many of us have a false sense of humility. As CS Lewis said (paraphrased), humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. The very first thing you have to do is take stock of what you have. Do you have any particular skills? Are you talented in a particular area? Do you have an abundance of anything? It could be tangible like an abundance of money or food; or intangible, like empathy or organization and time management. Write everything down so you can see them in real life, not just as imaginary items in your brain.
Second question: What is it’s purpose?
The next step would be to write the purpose of each of those gifts. This is an objective assessment of the what you wrote down. This is super literal. You’re good at cooking? What is the purpose of cooking? To make food people can eat. You have a lot of money? What is the purpose of money? To purchase items or services. That is the level of objective literal assessment I’m talking about. Don’t get these things all wrapped up in your emotions or your identity. Just call it what it is. A hammer is for driving nails. A shovel for scooping. A lawn mower for cutting grass.
There is a deeper level to this. Your gifts, your talents, what you have in abundance… those things are not you. When I go in my backyard, I do not identify with my shovel. I do not see myself as inseparable from my lawn mower. Those are tools that I use to accomplish something. That is the same thing here. Your giftedness is not your value. Your value comes from the image and likeness and sacrificial love of God. A piano player who gets arthritis and can’t play anymore does not have diminished value. Our value can never be taken, cut short, or minimized in any way.
Third question: How do I use it for that purpose?
Finally, we have to think about how we put this into action. This can be tricky because we will start to wrap our emotions and feelings into this piece because it asks something of us. Try to keep it objective. How can you use your lawn mower for cutting grass? Well…I can help the little old man down the road mow his lawn after I do mine? YES! How do you use empathy cooking to make food for people to eat? I can make sack lunches for the homeless. Awesome! How can you use empathy to share in the feelings of others? I can comfort the widow in Church? Great!
By separating the gift and the the purpose of that gift from ourselves, what we can do to help the Kingdom of God becomes more clear. The issue I think is that we confuse the purpose of the gift with the purpose of the person. Those are two very seperate and very different purposes.
God gives abundantly. Our role as stewards is to use those gifts properly and to the fullest of their ability. So, if you’re someone like me, who overthinks things, don’t get caught up in the results or the “what does it all mean?” nonsense. Focus on using the gift how it was made to be used. We water the seeds, God makes them grow.
Working for my life’s vision of writing stories in a beverage shop that I own.
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