Stewardship – What is it really?

What is stewardship?Stewardship is something that I hear a lot of talk about, but not a lot of understanding. I truly believe that understanding what stewardship is and how it applies to our lives will change the way we make decisions each day. If we really understand what it means to be good stewards we will begin to not only see our lives change, but also the world around us. Like all other Biblical principles, tremendous benefit is gained by following them.

The definition of Christian stewardship

Lets look at the actual definition of stewardship.

Stewardship:

1: the office, duties, and obligations of a steward

2: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something ; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care <stewardship of our natural resources>

I like how it says “managing of something.” To me this implies that we have decisions to make and are responsible for that which we are stewards over. Just like a manager of business is responsible for his/her department and employees, so we are with all that has been entrusted to us.

So what are we actually stewards over?

Personally, I believe it applies to everything we have been given. Our time, our money, our God given gifts and abilities, our influence, it all comes from God. There are lots of stewardship verses that show us how we should act, but my favorite is the Parable of the Talents since it gives such a great illustration of what a good steward does. Put simply, the good stewards were the ones who took “risks” and action in order to multiply what they had been given. The bad steward was the one who out of fear decided not to take a risk and was called lazy as well.

This reminds me of another scripture…

Luke 12:48

…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

How should “stewardship living” affect our lives?

Our finances tend to be the key area that people refer to when speaking of stewardship. I think the main reason is that often money is one of the most difficult things for people to give. At least for me that used to be the case. I was okay giving my energy, time, or sharing my abilities, but money was not something that I was interested in giving away. That is probably why God had to work on me for so long to help me lose my attitude! ;)

One of the things that helped me was keeping focus on the fact that I came into the world with nothing and would leave with nothing. I began to look at all my possessions as merely being “on loan.” This has helped me begin to see myself more as a “steward” rather than a “possessor”.

Stewarding a ViolinStewardship of a violin

I remember a friend of mine saying that he was talking to a well-known violinist about his violin. The violinist had mentioned that the violin was a couple hundred years old and worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars. The interesting point I remember from the conversation was the way the violinist viewed himself as a steward of the instrument. He knew that many great musicians had played the instrument before he was even born. He was also not naive to think that he would be the last to play the fine instrument. He understood that it was just temporarily passing through his hands.

The violinist’s outlook on his violin has really helped me get a better understanding of the role possessions should have in my life. Changing my thinking in this way has affected how I handle my money and even my weekly buying decisions. It’s not that having possessions is a good or bad thing, just that it needs to be in the proper perspective.

What are your thoughts on stewardship? What has helped you become a better steward?

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37 Comments
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  1. What a wonderful post. The main thing that helps me is understanding that what I have is not my own, like the violin. The water from my faucet is not mine to waste, nor the electricity that lights my home. Stewardship is a tough thing, but so important. Thanks.

    • I agree with Nicki. Everything we have has been given to us by God. It doesn’t just belong to us alone. If we prove to be good stewards of what He gives us, He will bless us with more, and we’ll always have what we need.

    • I agree with you Nicki, even about water and electricity. It doesn’t matter if I have enough to pay a higher bill, I still feel bad if I just waste water and electricity when I don’t need to…

      On another point, God gives us all blessings and people tend to want more. But if we’re not grateful for what God has already given us, why would He give us more. So part of being a good steward is also just contentment and being grateful for what we do have.

  2. Love your post! Sounds simple enough, however we can get “wrapped up” in overspending for the ones we love over the holidays. However, if we stop and think how that is possible, we might just not do it. How do we overspend? We allow the legal loan sharks (credit card companies)the power to overspend. Think about it and what scripture says about debt. Don’t let it happen to you!

  3. denise asbury

    I was asked to become one of the teachers to teach stewardship at my church. I pulled up this post just to find out what is stewardship. I never ever thought about things being on loan to me. In that case I have been messing up big time. When I saw the word “loan”. I stopped looked at the way I keep my home, the car that I drive, and the job that I work. Oh my goodness, I have much to improve on. I got some serious thinking to do and some work to do. Thanks

    • Denise,
      I am glad it helped you – believe me, I know the feeling you are talking about – God does that to me all the time. I think I understand something and he pulls off another layer to uncover something I had no idea about!

  4. Thank you so much for the enlightenment. This is very encouraging and of much blessing to me. I have an invitation to speak on stewardship this coming Easter Sunday. So I decided to look up a few information on the internet to support my presentation. This particular sight and the testimonies posted have deepened my insight. God bless you.

  5. As the newly elected Steward for our congregation, I am looking for resources for our 2011 Stewardship Campaign, which will begin next month. I really appreciate this perspective that everything we have is “on loan” from God. Thank you so much. You have helped me greatly.

  6. Awesome God

    That was a great i really did enjoy that i am work very hard on budget and getting my fianance together i am ask the lord everyday to strenght me and help me to budget my finance thanks so much for this article it has help me out alot and help me to understand that nothing on this earthly place belong to be it’s. the lord he just have me watch over it temporarily.

  7. My church often talks about the 4 principles of Stewardship

    1. God owns everything; I own nothing
    2. God entrusts me with everything that I “have”
    3. God wants me to increase/improve what I have not decrease/diminish it
    4. God can call me into account at any time

    • I love this and I am TOTALLY stealing it. I will promise to give it away, and not keep it for myself. Thank you so much.

      • Stephanie

        KH, what great insight! Bob, great article. I praying to the Lord this morning about a financial decision and this morning this article was my email lesson today.

        “God can call me into account at any time” Very sobering! I want to be a faithful stewart when he does call!

        God bless!

  8. ALEGE ISHOLA

    Great article. Unless a person keys into stewardship as ordains by God, he/she will definitely not be able to fulfill a purposeful life. The beginning of this is really accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior.

  9. Thank you so much for your blog post, I really liked this read. I am glad to also read your reader comments because not only do I learn from the post, but I am also able to see that there are others around who struggle with similar problems.
    I confess I have not been a good steward, I want to be, and now I am seeing my life and whats around me differently.
    Thank you again.

  10. This is something that I have been trying to work on for a while now. It is difficult and we oftentimes don’t think about it much

  11. Judy Jackson/Howell

    I love this ministry, it is blessing my life, my way of thinking and changing me while I journey here. Thank you Bob, I also like doing things the long way, because I have learned by experience that there really are no shortcuts. I read a story to my grandchildren about this very subject; three things a person learns. There are no shortcuts, don’t jump to conclusions, never ask a man or women how they made their riches….judy

  12. Love this article about Christian stewardship, I know that term get’s thrown around a lot but i really didn’t know what the heck people were talking about until I asked people at work and then somebody emailed me this article!

  13. Brooke Eury

    I really, really needed to read your article today. All of these comments are so true. I really didn’t understand my husband when he kept saying to me that we needed to be good stewards of our money. After reading this article it really brought tears to my eyes realizing the error of my recent ways. I understand more now how I need to view what I thought of as my hard earned money as God’s money and how he has blessed me and my family with it to use to his glory. Thanks so much and God Bless you all!

  14. Donte

    This was an excellent break-down. I appreciate the way blended the spiritual with the practical. You have truly enlightened me on the subject. Thanks so much for taking the time to scribe this.

  15. I’ve heard many things about stewardship but I don’t think I’ve seen defined quite so precisely and clearly. Thank you – and the story of the violin really hit home because I love music!

  16. Being a steward is all about being a manager. I like to think of myself as a CFO for The Lord, and he is the chairman of the board.

  17. Excellent indeed. I believe stewardship is the defining issue of every Christian. Though I personally don’t believe we can lose our salvation, we will be judged/rewarded in the end for what we did or didn’t do as stewards. The parable of the talents makes that emphatically clear. As does I Cor. 3:10-23 where Paul describes a judgement that “the saved” will go through. The judgement described here is not a judgement deciding on salvation, but a judgement of stewardship resulting in rewards (or lack thereof). Challenging stuff.

    Thank you for your insights!

  18. I love that violin analogy. That paints a beautiful picture of what stewardship means. Well done.

  19. 1st accepting its not yours but God’s
    2nd fear God
    3rd care for as the rath of God abides other wise

  20. conniemackey

    as a sunday school teacher and preparing a lesson from Ezra where the priests were taking gifts to the temple and Ezra appointed priests to be in charge of all that was to be taken and to be accountable and to call the items Holy unto the Lord the explanation of stewardship becomes clear and with Ezra counting everything and making sure all was done accordingly it makes sense for us as the body of Christ to become better Stewards of the things we have been entrusted with including using our time and talents wisely Thank you for this information it is not only informative it is also a Blessing May God continue to Bless you and this Ministry

  21. I do agree that what we have is not ours to hold, we are to give not just to the church the tenth and the offering; but give our time serving others whether it be at the church or another origination we can go to the food bank an serve, that is giving of our time.

  22. if we all acknowledge that all we have belongs to God and we all will give account of it, the world will be a better place. People will not be selfish, self-centred and greedy.

  23. Nchise Delphine Nchang

    Thank you so much for your blog post. Unless a person keys into stewardship as ordained by God, he/she will definitely not be able to fulfill a purposeful life.

  24. In the past my husband and I gave both the tithe and offerings and we had gotten out of debt. However, we were short sighted, in that we weren’t being good stewards. We shopped our way back into debt. Several months ago the Lord showed us what our problem had been; the lust of the eyes (wanting things just because we liked them) and poor stewardship. So we began to pray. As we continued to give we no realize that we must also manage the money that God blesses us with.

    This morning as I prayed, I was thanking God for His many blessings and I realized that I needed to take better care of “All” the things that the Lord has entrusted me with because it all belongs to Him. Then I started today’s lesson; and there it was, staring me in the face “STEWARDSHIP”. Praise God for using this post to confirm what He had already put on my heart. Thank you Bob for allowing God to use you.

    When I began this course, I couldn’t decide if I should take, The Getting Started Course or the Bibical Money Essentials Course. I decide on the latter because I wanted to be rooted and grounded in God’s word concerning money before we started on a debt reduction plan. First the spiritual and then the natural. Just getting out of debt would not be enough I knew that my husband and I would need to handle money God’s way.

    Freedom from debt and stewardship go hand-in-hand. And yes, stewardship is about so much more than just money. It concerns everything that the Lord has loaned us as we journey through this life. By being good stewards we honor and worship God with our substance. Remember, we can’t take any of it with us into eternity.

    • I really agree with you Anna. Thank you for posting that. I only read your comment after I posted mine and I do agree with you. It’s not just about being faithful in our finances but in the other areas God has given us to be a faithful steward over.

  25. I really enjoyed the example of the violin. I work very hard on being a faithful steward over my finances and in other things God has entrusted to me to be a steward over. I love the parable of the talents. Probly my favorite one when it comes to being a good steward. One thing that I take notice in the parable is the third servant who was moved by fear. I think so many times people deal with their finances and make decisions based out of fear and not out of fully relying and trusting in Him who gave it to you in the first place. I can definitely say this is a challenge, even in my marriage regarding our finances.

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