Stewardship calls us to share. Sure, there’s the money part of sharing, but really, stewardship is much more than that -- sharing our spiritual gifts, our time, our listening ear, our very selves with others. When stewardship is working well it becomes cycle of sharing, one person touched by God’s action in their life inspires another, and on and on the cycle goes. Today’s post explores how one of our students at Luther Seminary has felt that call to keep the cycle alive.
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
The Demand of Stewardship
Stewardship transforms the way we live as people of God, inviting us to accept others’ generosity with gratitude and inspiring us to practice generosity in return. Two passages of Scripture come to mind as I reflect on the promises and demands of stewardship.
Proverbs 11:24-25 says, “Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water.” To be a steward is to choose generosity and be a refreshment for others. Admittedly, this is a countercultural proposition, or at least counterintuitive. It challenges our need to have more and hold on to our resources. It goes against the current trend that suggests our giving equates having less.
We find a similar theme in Ecclesiastes 11:1-2: “Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back. Divide your means seven ways, or even eight, for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth." Scripture calls us to think differently about our giving. It suggests that in the economy of God, giving might actually result in more rather than less. It suggests that our giving brings refreshment to others and ourselves. The converse is also true: holding back our resources may result in diminished returns. Generosity has its benefits!
Why are these passages important for me? As a student at Luther Seminary, I feel like my whole journey here has been because of the generosity and stewardship of others. And that makes a demand of me in several ways.
It makes a demand for gratitude. I acknowledge that I am where I am because others have stewarded their resources in a manner that allowed some to flow towards Luther Seminary. Had those persons not given, then I would not have been offered a scholarship to pursue my studies. Those hands did not withhold what they had but gave freely to refresh others, including me. For this I am most grateful and express deep appreciation for their generosity. I am truly refreshed by their stewardship. Preparing this article is an act of gratitude.
Such stewards also place a demand on me to be diligent in my studies. Student life can be a challenge in many ways. Between the readings, assignments, campus jobs, church activities, seminary activities, and just life, the demands on my time and energy are high. There are days when the drive to be scholastically diligent is diminished. It is at those times when the knowledge of the faithful stewardship of others encourages me to go the extra mile.
The stewardship of others places a demand on me to give back. I am also a steward of the gifts and graces of God. Other stewards’ investment in me has enlarged my capacity and competency. Having been blessed, I am obliged to keep that process in motion. Using my course of study, that means, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, helping the church to pivot and be more accurate in accomplishing the mission of God in the world. It also includes working to create agile leaders and systems so that the church of the 21st century can minister to the felt needs of the people God has placed in our sphere. It calls me to a level of accountability to ensure that I pass on to faithful people what I have received (2 Tim 2:2). Those who come after me must be able to stand on my shoulders so that they can go further and do more for the mission of God. This results from the faithful stewardship of others.
There is no telling what God can do with, in, and through faithful stewards. Maybe it is time to taste and see!
For More Information
Algernon Lewis is pursuing the MA in Leadership and Innovation in Ministry at Luther Seminary. Married to Denise with two sons, Algernon is a pastor in the Moravian Church in Antigua and Barbuda.
Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising: Luther Seminary, in partnership with the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, is hosting a four-day intensive course, May 7-10, 2018. For more information visit: Lake Institute