Perspective: Stewardship is a spiritual issue.
Practices: Encourages participants to be responsible stewards in all aspects of their lives.
Leadership: Leaders can use this booklet in small groups or individually to help people travel a journey towards responsible stewardship.
This booklet is intended for either individual or group situations. The value of the book is not only its simplicity but in how it invites participants to be develop intentional habits.
The Wise Economy of Your Life
by Wendy A.W. Berthelsen
While growing up, I came to dislike the word, "stewardship" from hearing those around me repeatedly grumbling about giving, squabbling about how much, and complaining about the church's annual "pledge drive." As a pastor, I have heard the same, and experienced the anxiety of people during "budget" time. Who would have ever thought that "stewardship" would become one of my favorite words? What has changed?
I discovered the scriptural definition of "stewardship," and its accompanying principles that have set me free, and helped me to experience life differently with Jesus. This is the point of the short self-reflection guide, "The Wise Economy of Your Life." As a pastor, I have come to embrace a different approach to "stewardship." Through repeatedly teaching about true stewardship, and the principles of God's economy, God has been transforming people's view of stewardship, and more importantly the management of their lives. The scriptural principles of "The Wise Economy of Your Life" have been taught in Bible studies, small groups, and teaching series (temple talks, sermons, Council mini-moments). Churches have bought a quantity of booklets and made them available to their members. Here are excerpts:
"Stewardship is a scriptural word, describing the wise management of the GOODS that you have been given. It is not a program at church which for many can create an "ugh." Thankfully, stewardship begins with a personal lifestyle. It is the wise management of your life.
Freely and graciously, God has provided and entrusted you with an allotment of many GOODS of life to manage, spend, and multiply. GOODS are everything GOOD that you can point to in your life that God has graciously given to you. They include not only your resources and abilities, but also your salvation, relationships, creation, and much more."
You are called to be a wise steward. Steward in the Biblical Greek literally means household manager. Stewardship is about building your house or building your life. From the Biblical Greek word for stewardship, we get our English word, economy. Stewardship is the wise economy of your life."
Today, people struggle and are challenged by how they will spend their time, resources, and even their lives. Minute by minute and day-by-day, life is unfolding while spending choices compete for their resources. Advertising, either through the media or other people's lifestyles, bombards them with the message that having more will satisfy and then, not knowing any other option, they buy into this message. They are stretched by working long hours for a measure of prestige, or to attain a certain lifestyle while neither brings real and lasting contentment. They feel tired and worn out and stressed out a fair amount of the time by these choices, and yet, they do not know how to get off of this roller coaster that they have chosen. The principles of God's economy as captured in "The Wise Economy of Your Life result in freedom, contentment, and versatility. In various settings where I have served, my teaching partners and I have used not only the "The Wise Economy . . . " title, but various other titles for this same class: "The Balancing Act," "How Much is Enough?" "MY Time and Money." These titles capture people where they are in real life. Here are four testimonials:
1. "I am a person blessed by God with resources beyond my imagination. As a life long Christian, I have been troubled with certain biblical perspectives summed up in the story that it is easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven. Wise Economy had a profound impact on my understanding of what God has given me, how I am to treat it and use it, and its place in my life and the kingdom of God."
2. "God has blessed us with abundance. We try to be good stewards of our blessings and share what God has given us. We have a heartfelt desire to help others who may be struggling, help the church universal with its mission of reconciliation, and to share the Gospel through our God given talents for teaching. When we give, we receive great joy to see God's good work being enabled through our gifts."
3. "The Wise Economy of Your Life" teaches that God provides all things. God provides so that we might provide. Somewhere in my faith journey, I realized my possessions, talents and time were not meant to reside solely in me. Through God's leading, I've been able to share my gifts with others. As my gifts are sent out, the blessings rush in. What an enigma!
4. "The Wise Economy of Your Life" offers a prescription to avoid Stewardship omissions and misconceptions. Taught at the congregational level, it offers clear reasonable direction for conscientious Christians to follow. Taking a chapter a week and teaching it."
As a result of God setting people free where they struggle, they naturally begin to give more to support needs and invest in God's work without talking about budgets, pledges, and the church's "stewardship" emphasis. In fact, using ""The Wise Economy of Your Life" at times other than the church's annual budget emphasis, people will seek help for their time and money challenges, and hear with open ears the principles of God's economy.
"The Wise Economy of Your Life" teaches the scriptural principles of God's provision, wise management of life, need vs. want, wealth (having more than you need), simplicity, contentment, Sabbath, investing in the kingdom, the protection of tithing, the joy of giving, and sharing. These are contrasted with where people live their lives... personal ownership, possessing, wasteful spending, false definitions of need and wealth, overextension of time ("too busy") and money (unwise debt), anxiety, greed, being driven, and being possessed by possessions. The booklet provides study Scriptures, real-life examples, and thought-provoking exercises for self-reflection and discussion while engaging people in life-changing application.
"The Wise Economy of Your Life" is available from Call Incorporated., a non-profit Christian teaching ministry, helping all people to discover, discern and incorporate the fullness of God's call into all of life. Stewardship is a necessary companion of God's call. Life's "spending" choices can either detour a person from God's call, or God's call can determine and direct those spending and living choices.
The principles of "The Wise Economy of Your Life" are also shared in a chapter of the book, "Custom Designed: A Life Worthy of the Call." "Custom Designed" helps people seek and listen for God's call, and in turn live God's call in all of life through their time and money choices.
<p A.W. Berthelsen is pastor of Ministry in Daily Life at Hope Lutheran Church CedarHill, Texas and President of Call Incorporated. Call Inc. Office: 972-723-9688, 5321 Joe Wilson Rd., Midlothian, TX 76065
Pastors Wendy and Joel Berthelsen, and Steve and Kathy Harr, are the founders of Call Incorporated. The teachers of Call Incorporated are available to lead retreats and classes on the principles of God's economy, or God's call. For more information, or to purchase "The Wise Economy of Your Life" or "Custom Designed," visit Call Incorporated.
Wendy Berthelsen is a pastor Hope Lutheran Church, CedarHill, TS and President of Call Incorporated.