- Les Steubing
Service as Stewardship
When you hear the word ‘stewardship,’ what do you think of? Chances are that you thought about money or some other physical item. You wouldn’t be wrong to think this way. As the Facility Manager at Tate Springs, I act as a steward over the church’s facility, ensuring it is clean, safe, and fully functional. In doing this, the facility provides the saints at Tate Springs with an environment that is (hopefully) conducive to accomplishing the church’s mission of making disciples and equipping the saints for the work of ministry (c.f. Matt. 28:19-20; Eph. 4:12).
But… what if there is more to stewardship than meets the eye? What if God’s understanding of stewardship goes beyond finances or material things? There was a point in my life that I limited my understanding of stewardship to money and possessions. During this time, I recognized that the real source of my income and physical belongings was God. I also realized that I should seek wisdom in how to manage what God had provided. But, during this time, I failed to recognize something significant: people. God’s people. A question then arose: What was I doing to steward God’s people? The fact is that God places people in our lives for His purposes, and our relationships with them have significant consequences.
So, what is a steward anyway? Simply put, a steward is someone that manages another's property, finances, or other affairs. A steward manages the owner’s property in a manner consistent with how the owner wants it managed. Being a steward is a great honor and carries a lot of responsibility. As such, it should be taken seriously.
We understand that God provides for us. He’s given us jobs that provide the income we need to meet our physical needs. Our finances, cars, homes, and other belongings are supplied to us by God. God owns the funds that he provides to us, entrusting us with their care. Also, He expects us to use these things in a way that honors him as our physical needs are met.
If we’re God’s stewards and are called to care for His property, we need a proper understanding of what God owns, so we know for what we are called to steward. Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” Take note of that last phrase: “and those who dwell in it.” This means that people are God’s possessions, just as much as “the cattle on a thousand hills” are (Ps. 50:10). It is abundantly clear that God made all things, and he owns all things—including the crown of creation, humanity (c.f. John 1:3).
Every Sunday, we at Tate Springs recite the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) as a reminder of Christ’s call for His followers to replicate—to make disciples that make disciples. This tradition is not intended to be something done and forgotten until the next Sunday. It’s intended to inspire us to go out into the world and live a Great Commission lifestyle, seeking out the lost and teaching them in the ways of Christ—drawing them into reconciliation with the Father.
Each of us has been strategically placed in specific environments that give us influence over the care of God’s people. Our families, workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods are filled with people—God’s people—that are in desperate need of redemption. What I’m saying is this: our day-to-day lives are mission fields. As we move from moment to moment, we’re in a position to steward God’s possessions. Even in the “boring” moments, we’re living in the fact that God—the creator of all things, who lacks nothing—is counting on us to care for and lead His people back to Him. Nothing is boring about that!
Living a Great Commission lifestyle requires that we “make the most of every opportunity” and “become all things to all men” (Eph 5:16; 1 Cor. 9:22). Please make no mistake: none of this is easy; it’s hard work. This lifestyle asks us to stretch our comfort zones. A stewardship/Great Commission lifestyle may require that you walk over to the neighbor you’ve had for five years and introduce yourself for the first time. Similarly, it could ask you to share your faith with the kind lady that grooms your dog every month. These random examples should give rise to an understanding of how each of us can begin stewarding God’s people.
Regardless of the means you’re called to steward the relationships in your life, rest assured that you’ve been given the skills to deliver. We may feel like a modern-day stuttering Moses, but God will provide for you today just as He did Moses all those years ago. Obedience always begins with an act of faith. When we trust that God’s plans have a purpose and that we play an integral part in the story, it becomes much, much more comfortable.
As you recite the Great Commission next Sunday, do so in consideration of these words from Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Don’t limit your understanding of being a steward to material things. Care for everything and everyone how the owner of all things (God) would care for it Himself. Doing so will result in hearing the words we all long to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:23).