We all have a ministry filter—a lens that shapes the way we see what we do and why we do it. In fact, we may have more than one filter, depending on the context of our work and the opportunities in front of us. But I want to challenge you to see ministry through a lens you may have never considered—the lens of stewardship.
From where I stand, looking at ministry through the eyes of stewardship changes everything. Of course, you really can't use stewardship as an effective filter until you know what it's all about, so let's start with a question: What does stewardship mean to you? There's a lot of confusion about the answer to that question these days. And that's a problem because stewardship is one of our highest callings as believers.
To get a better handle on what stewardship means, we need to think back several centuries to when the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible was first published. It was a time of lords and ladies ruling large tracts of land known as realms. Every lord had one person who watched over every detail of the realm's business. That person was the "steward."
When the KJV translators needed a word to describe the responsibility of believers to handle God's stuff well, that's the image they used. It was familiar to their culture. They all knew about the rich lords who owned everything in the realm. They knew that while stewards handled a lot of resources, they actually owned nothing. Instead, they managed the lord's assets for the lord's benefit.
Fast-forward to today. We don't deal with lords and stewards very often, so it's tempting to think that stewardship is just some old, stale word we've seen in church history books or in a capital campaign our churches dig out every year. To add to the confusion, the term is often used to describe taking care of the environment. But genuine, biblical stewardship goes so much deeper than any of that.
Scripture traces stewardship all the way back to the Garden of Eden. In fact, stewardship is the first assignment God gave the human race. In Genesis 1:28, He told Adam and Eve to have dominion over everything that moves on this Earth. In other words, God commanded them to take care of His stuff.
Adam and Eve were history's very first "asset managers," and God expects us to follow their example. For believers, stewardship means managing God's blessing God's way for God's glory. He owns it all (Ps. 24:1), and we handle His stuff the way He decides. We are His asset managers.
But even though we understand the definition of stewardship, we've still got to deal with another common misconception. To use stewardship as an effective filter, we've got to get past the idea that it's only about money. From God's point of view, stewardship involves all of the blessings He provides—not just the financial ones.
God brings into our lives our marriages, our kids, our friends, our health, our time, our talents and our opportunities. When we stop and think about it, even our ministries belong to Him. He trusts us to handle every single area for His glory.
That's an incredible responsibility (1 Cor. 4:2), but it really creates the foundation for using stewardship as a lens for ministry. Understanding the power of stewardship changes our worldview. And when our worldview changes, our actions change. That can take our ministries on a whole new trajectory.
Ultimately, the stewardship filter can transform the entire DNA of your church. Anointing drips from the beard, so your example will flow down to other church leaders and members. Eventually, as stewardship becomes the church's primary ministry lens, the entire culture changes. A new legacy will begin to grow before your very eyes. But it starts with a foundational gratitude to the One who owns it all and trusts us enough to be His hands and feet.
Thankfully, stewardship is being reclaimed for God's glory. Everyday people like you are starting to kick entitlement in the teeth and be unbelievably grateful for what they get to do. God is using that leadership to plant His message into the hearts of others.
Best of all, it's making a difference. Lives are transformed, marriages are restored, and teams are unified. That's what happens when leaders do ministry through the lens of stewardship.
When you use God's blessings God's way for God's glory, God moves and lives change.
Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor and dynamic speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide as a Ramsey Personality. Available on radio stations nationwide, Chris Brown's "True Stewardship" provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. You can follow him online (stewardship.com), on Twitter (@chrisbrownonair) or on Facebook (chrisbrownonair).
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