Principles of Stewardship
Life has always been organized around work. Jesus used examples of daily work repeatedly to illustrate the principles of stewardship. But work in our day is so very different than in Biblical Palestine that we have trouble seeing the connection between our lives and Stewardship.
Hugh Welchel wrote an article titled Four Principles of Biblical Stewardship, based on a commentary by Bill Peel. This is a quick overview of how the four principles of stewardship relate to our modern lives.
I. The Principle of Ownership
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. –Psalm 24:1
In our work, we are very conscious of the fact that we do not own the things that we manage. The psalm reminds us that we do not own anything in our private lives either. We certainly know this when we plan how to pass on “our” properties to our heirs. But this applies to all things in God’s world that we touch: our home, the park, the beach, the summer cottage—and the church. In the largest sense, we are managers (stewards) of it all.
This revelation can be freeing: we may work hard, but we do not have to devote the same emotional commitment as if we were “truly” owners.
II. The Principle of Responsibility
We know that just because we do not own something doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible for it. We wouldn’t last long in our job, or our home, if we didn’t assume responsibility for the continuing upkeep of what we “manage”. The entire earth is the Lord’s, and that is a huge responsibility! Fortunately, we are not responsible for all of it: just the part that we touch (which can be quite vast!). Being responsible means recognizing that our actions have effects on everything around us.
III. The Principle of Accountability
Accountability is the flip side of Responsibility. If we are responsible for something, then we will be held accountable for it. In God’s world, Accountability has a different meaning than money or maintenance. How do we treat those around us? What do we do to ensure a good life for future generations?
IV. The Principle of Reward
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.‑Colossians 3:23-24
Remember that God is beyond time, and God’s reward is not money or fame. So “receive an inheritance” does not refer to a reward in the distant future, but in a time that is not known to us. Being good stewards of what God has given us to manage, mean that God’s reward will appear “out of time”. One day you may look back and realize how your life has become fuller as you adopted the Principles of Stewardship. You have been rewarded, but not in the manner or time that you envisioned.
The Principles of Stewardship are a manner of perceiving the world, as God’s world. And the rewards of this new perception are infinite.
Yours in Christ,
Kay Galloway, Chair, Jennifer Howe, Pete McVay, Pastor Jim Thomas