What does “Stewardship” mean to you? Many people think it means: ‘That time of year when the church tries to get money from my pocketbook to the church’s budget.’ Well, if you have ever thought along similar lines, you are not alone. The only problem is, for many churches they have lost the deeper, biblical meaning of “stewardship.” Let me tell you a story.
Do you remember singing “He’s got the whole world in his hands” as a kid (or parent or grandparent?) It is comforting to think that God has everything under control. I have fond memories of my own grandparents singing this song to me when I was a kid. It was impossible to fully comprehend, but yet, in a childlike way, very simple. God holds everything!
Let me tell you another story from medieval Britain. There was a wealthy pig farmer. He owned a large sty filled with muck and several pigs to wallow in it. Now the owner had more important things to do than minding the pigs all day, so he hired a ward to watch over everything. This sty-ward was in charge of feeding, tending, and ultimately selling the pigs. When the owner returned, the sty-ward gave back to the owner all the proceeds of the sale. The owner thanked the ward, for he had faithfully cared for everything the owner had entrusted to him. The ward never owned the pigs and yet dedicated himself to their well-being and care. “Sty-ward” is the precursor to our English word steward.
Stewardship in the church is a theological term, not a financial term. It is very tempting to claim ownership of “my” things, “my bank account” “my success.” But to be a believer in the God who has the whole world in his hands, God is really the owner of the world. God created the heavens and the mountains, the plants and every animal. God is also the creator of me, the cotton plants that makes my clothes, the food that is harvested to fill my stomach, the oil that powers my car. To go one step further even, God created the stomach I use, the body I clothe, and even the metals and elements of the car I get to drive.
This month I will talk about Reclaiming Stewardship on Sunday mornings. Come and discover for yourself that stewardship is more than a financial pledge, it’s the essence of a Christ-centered life.