What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “stewardship”? Is it your church? Is it your bank account? Do your eyebrows scrunch together as you ponder what it means? We hardly hear the word outside of church, and when we say stewardship inside the church it’s usually in the context of finances or giving. I remember hearing this word as a new Christian and thinking, “What are these people talking about, and what does that word even mean?” However, when I discovered the fully orbed meaning of stewardship, I began to see what a tremendous impact it could have on my spiritual maturity and fruitfulness.
What Is Stewardship?
Webster’s dictionary defines stewardship as “the conducting, supervision, or managing of something… especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”
The Greek word for stewardship, oikonomos, refers to either: (1) someone entrusted to oversee or manage important spiritual responsibilities, or (2) a manager of a household. The apostle Paul uses oikonomos twice in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 to define his role as an apostle, stating “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards [definition #1] of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards [definition #2] that they be found faithful.”
To be a “steward” means to be someone entrusted with responsibility over something that does not belong to them. I’m curious; do you see yourself as a steward? You should! In all reality, nothing in this world belongs to you. All your possessions—all of them—belong to God, and he has entrusted them to you to manage while you reside on this earth. The clothes you’re wearing belong to God. The money in your bank account belongs to God. Your car, computer, cell phone, pets, retirement account, stove, couch, home—God owns all of it, and he has entrusted it to you to manage for his glory and his purposes.
What Do We Steward?
Not only has God entrusted you with possessions, he has entrusted you with time. Life is a precious gift that is bound by time. God has generously granted each of us the gift of life, and we are to manage our time with his lordship in mind.
Not only has God entrusted you with possessions and time, he has entrusted you with talents and abilities. But we do not own these skills or use them to rack up accolades for ourselves; rather God has graciously bestowed them on us, equipping us serve him and love our neighbors.
Everything in this life belongs to God. Psalm 24:1 declares that the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” Friends, this means you belong to God, not only you, but your possessions, time, talents, giftings, resources, money, body, career, children, silverware, lawn, relationships—everything. If you live and breathe, you are a steward. You are a manager of the life—and all that this life includes—that God has entrusted to you!
“Stewardship” is not merely about your personal finances; it’s an all-encompassing, life-changing, worldview-correcting word that provides us the proper perspective of who God is, and who he intends for us to be.
Can you imagine how much the body of Christ could impact the world if we embraced stewardship in the fullness of its meaning? In your own life, how do you suppose God would have you take these truths to heart for the sake of his kingdom?