the baby and the bathwater


Stewardship
September 30, 2009, 3:31 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Stewardship: it’s the word that stops churches buying MACs, stop us providing nice coffee; stops us buying comfy chairs; and definitely, definitely stops us worship leaders buying nice stuff to listen to great music on.

Stewardship: it’s about saving money, it’s about cutting cost, it’s about stream-lining workflow, it’s about finding cleverer ways to work; it’s about controlling cash flow and minimising waste.

Depressed?

I certainly am.

Of course all those things are good and noble and not without merit.

But it is still all very depressing isn’t it?

Stewardship.

Whenever I hear it my heart sinks, my enthusiasm dies, my energy levels fall, and I feel like I’m losing sight of what I love about the Kingdom of God.

Stewardship.

Makes me think of grey people in grey suits with small circular glasses looking stern.

Rather like accountants but with less sparkle.

Or like the miserable people who used to stand up in our church meetings to moan about the quality of the toilet paper.

Stewardship.

It just knocks the life out of you, doesn’t it.

Maybe that’s why the word is never* used in the Bible.

It is a deeply depressing word that we seem to have created in Christian circles mainly to stop people spending money. It’s in that same category of other Christian words that we really should stop using. Like ‘balance’ and ‘tension’. Words that we use mainly because we don’t understand the issues, or don’t have the answers, but still want to sound wise and spiritual.

As I say, the Bible doesn’t use the word stewardship.

I did find the word ‘steward’ in my bible, but then I think it was used about someone serving drinks. Other than that, it’s nowhere to be found.

Instead the Bible uses words like generosity, values, care, honour, wisdom, giving, treasure.

Treasure.

Now there’s a good word to use.

Maybe it would be better if we thought of ourselves as treasuring what God entrusts to us.

Makes more sense, doesn’t it?

Even sounds quite exciting.

Maybe we should think of ourselves as treasuring the things of the Kingdom:

We treasure the honour of God. Upholding His name, His fame, His glory. King David had a dream in his youth to be involved in re-establishing the honour of the Lord’s presence in his lifetime. When he became King of Israel one of the first things he did was ensure this dream was realised as he brought the Ark to Jerusalem. He treasured the presence of God, the honour of God, the glory of God.

We treasure the reputation of The Church. The church is God’s chosen vehicle, God’s means of reaching the world with the hope and good news of Jesus. It is ‘the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth’ (1 Timothy 3;15). Let’s treasure it.

We treasure the people entrusted to us. As pastors we are called to care for and nurture those in our congregations. We train them, and teach them, and invest in them. We fan into flame the dreams within them and point them towards the Great Dreamer.

We treasure the vision that God has laid on our hearts. In my mind, people buy into vision and leadership far more than they do to anything else. If we stop chasing the dream, we start to die. And people walk away from us. Or as Proverbs 29,18  puts it: ‘If people can’t see what God is doing they stumble over themselves’.

We treasure the Earth in which we dwell. We look after the fruits of God’s creative energy and treasure them until the day that the Heaven Space and the Earth Space become one.

God entrusts to us these treasures of His Kingdom.

Stewardship is about ownership and control. Treasure is about value and worth.

I vote for treasure.

[written on a MAC in a comfy chair with a three shot latte in my hand, listening to music on my new iPhone 3Gs]

(*actually it is used once in Luke 19, but that is in relation to intentional theft, and then only in the King James version)

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14 Comments so far
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…clearly you are not a reader of the King James Version 😉 (see Luke 16)
The point of being a “steward” is that I don’t own “my” money – it belongs to God.

but I like what you said about treasure. We’re entrusted with treasure. And we’re entrusted with money. The secret is not to confuse the two.

ps, loved your “uncomfortable” post. really great stuff. have been forwarding it round to lots of people in our church.

Comment by Mark

Stolen for a sermon in the future. Great insight mate. Foxy

Comment by chrisfox

Mark
Glad to have you back commenting again!
OK so you are technically right….I stand technically corrected….But I am inclined to think that Luke 16 is about purposeful theft rather than anything else, which is probably a little different from what I am trying to look at on this post.

Comment by neilbennetts

Foxy.
If only blog post attracted royalties like my songs….hang on….no one sings my songs….rats.

Comment by neilbennetts

Knew if I looked hard enough I’d find it. 🙂 ESV uses Steward quite liberally. In Daniel 1:16 “So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegatables”. Obviously watching a budget 😉 But the Hebrew meltsar used here translates to guardian, overseer? Stewardship? But I get your drift and am only putting thus across in haste on my iPhone 3GS before taking my daughter to school. I happen to agree with your sentiments entirely. Especially when I try to get our PCC to spend some of the money held in the bank “for a rainy day”.

Comment by Chris

The Daniel one was the only other one I could find…By the way I lied about having an iPhone3Gs. Can’t afford it yet. (but it made a good ending to the post….)

Comment by neilbennetts

if you’d been a good steward, you would have been able to afford an iPhone3Gs

Comment by Mark

Stewardship at my church = to save money, make the associate minister redundant right at the start of an intereggnum, leaving your Worship Director to fill in all the gaps as and when they are identified by the wardens. Suffice to say this isn’t exactly how I first envisioned the exciting call to ministry to pan out.

Good thoughts though, Neil, thanks.

Comment by the real chris marsh

Thanks Mark! You don’t know how painful it is seeing all my friends enjoy life with their iPhones whist I keep plodding on with my cheap Samsung. I can but dream….

Comment by neilbennetts

Chris.
Times are tough: we have not escaped cut backs recently either. I think my next post should be about holding onto dreams…
Hope things improve soon.
N

Comment by neilbennetts

and you will never make it big in the world of Christian music if you don’t have an iPhone:
http://vickybeeching.com/blog/leeland-sing-gang-vocals-on-vickys-record/

Comment by Mark

Mark:
that VB link raised a chuckle. Too many iPhones.
Neil: you really ought to get one, even if just for the 4-track recording studio it allows you to carry around with you all the time.

Comment by Chris

Mark&Chris
having seen that maybe I won’t get one…..

Comment by neilbennetts

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