Stewardship Part 1: Being, Not Just Receiving

By Stacey Tuttle

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about stewardship lately.  I guess that may be natural, given the circumstances.  What circumstances?  Well, for starters, I “raise support” for my job.  This means that the organization I work for doesn’t pay me a salary.  Instead, I get other people who want to support what we do to send money to our organization to fund my work.  As I ask for other people to consider sending money to support me (I mean, technically, I should say they are supporting the work we pray God is doing through us—but in a practical sense, and in a simple sense, they are supporting me) I naturally tend to think a bit about stewardship.

Wikipedia says stewardship is “an ethic that embodies responsible planning and management of resources.”  Webster adds that it’s the “careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”  For the purposes of this article, I would put those two together and add mention of the Source of your resources, the One to whom you are responsible to steward well.  Putting it all together, stewardship is the careful, responsible planning and management of any and all things that are entrusted to your care by God.

I have heard a lot of sermons about stewardship in my lifetime.  I know that “my” money isn’t really mine, but given to me by God, entrusted to me.  It’s a resource that He wants me to steward well, to manage carefully in a way that would honor Him as the giver, the actual owner of that resource. I also know that this concept doesn’t just apply to my money, but also to my time, my car, my apartment, etc.  This isn’t really new to most of us, I would wager. My recent thoughts on stewardship have taken a surprising turn, however, so stick with me.

I think the process of raising support has put a new spin on the concept of stewardship for me.  It is forcing me to take a hard look at myself and question if I am a worthy investment of someone else’s resources. Can I really look in the mirror and know that if someone invests God’s financial resources entrusted to them into me and my ministry, that I will be worthy of that investment?  It’s also forcing me to look back to when I was on the other end of the stick, to when I had a corporate job and steady income with some to spare—was I then a good
steward of the abundance I had?  Was I a generous supporter of other people in positions of ministry?

Those are tough questions. I see my “former” life in a different light now that I’m on this end, now that I’m the one doing the asking instead of the giving.  Not only has this been a wake-up call to me in a lot of areas, but it has also made a difference in how I pray. I used to simply pray for the resources I lacked, for “God my Provider” to show Himself as such in my life.  Not a bad prayer.  Certainly, we are supposed to come to God with our needs.  In fact, I have even learned to be somewhat thankful (can I be reluctantly grateful?) for the fact that I have needs, only because it has allowed me to know God as my provider in a far more real, personal, and intimate way.

Let me interject here. How will you ever know God as healer, unless you need healing?  How will you know Him as provider unless you are in need of provision?  How will you know Him as your strength unless you experience weakness? I could go on, but the point is, we say we want to know Him, but we resent any circumstance that gives us the opportunity to really know some aspect of his nature towards us.  I’m learning (what is it Paul says, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it”[1]?) to appreciate how being in need has revealed His loving provision toward me.

OK, that was a freebie.  Let’s go back to what I was saying about how my prayers have changed.  Suddenly I find that I’m not just praying for
resources that I need anymore.  Before I even pray for what I need or want, I’m now asking God to make me worthy of that investment of His resources.  It’s amazing, but I find that I am honestly becoming more concerned with whether or not I am the right kind of person, the kind of person whom God can entrust with His resources.  If I’m not, then He is wasting His money on me, or whatever resource I might be asking for.

I long to be able to look into the mirror and know that if God were to bless me with an abundance of money, that I would be the kind of
person who would invest it wisely in the Kingdom of God, who would see it multiply and reap a harvest of benefit for God’s people.  I would like to know that I wouldn’t first think about all the things on my wish list I haven’t been able to afford till then.  If I am not that person, then God
is probably very wise to withhold that money from me and give it to someone else who will steward it better.

God has been changing my heart.  I used to desire His resources first, without a thought as to how He should feel about giving them to me.  Now I am beginning to desire first that He might feel good about giving His resources to me.  I find I am desiring more and more to be the right kind of person, a worthy person, than that I am comfortable and have what I want.

How about you?  Have you ever given much thought to the issue of stewardship?  Do you ask God how He would like you to use and/or give the resources that have been entrusted to you?  Do you see God as the source of all that you have?  What about when hard times come, can you give thanks for the opportunity to get to know God in a new way?  Have you ever asked him to make you the right kind of steward?

I challenge you to begin to pray that God would make you into the right sort of person, the sort of person who can be entrusted with God’s resources—a good steward.Luke 16:10-11 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”


Click here to read Stewardship Part 2:  Stewarding His Voice.


[1] Phil. 3:13