Today, conventional stewardship materials often state that since everything we have is God’s and we are simply the managers, we should give freely. In fact, we are “duty bound” by God to do just that. However, this fails to motivate people to live a life of exceptional stewardship. Why? Because duty is the stewardship equivalent of “eat your vegetables.” “Because I said so” only takes us so far; it’s human nature to need to know what’s in it for us.
Here’s a new thought to ponder: What if what we have was given to us by God for a reason? In short, He has given us our gifts because:
1. He loves us and wants us to enjoy those gifts.
2. God has a plan for our gifts. While it is impossible to know God’s entire plan, He often gives guidance by using our heart’s desire to show us the way. This is where God asks us to trust Him.
Trust and surrender are incredibly under-discussed elements of good stewardship. They are so important because they are the keys to overcoming the fear that often keeps people from giving freely. In order for God’s plans to take motion, we often must make the first move of our own free will, usually in the face of fear or hardship. Our first move shows God that we are ready to accept His guidance. After that first step is made, it often becomes easier and easier for people to continue to trust and surrender. But, as Bugs Bunny said, “Boy is that first step a doozy!”
As leaders, we can help people make that first step. We can share our stories. We can let people know that they are loved for who they are and, in fact, God made them who they are to fit into His plan. Encouraging people to use their gifts just a little more than they are comfortable with can help them build trust with God. We can even remind them that becoming an active part of God’s plan involves entering into a relationship with God that is both incredibly fulfilling and equally frightening. Jesus said it best when he said, “In order to save your life, you will have to give it up.” When someone is approaching that first step, they need us more than ever.
Talking about stewardship, more than just one or two times a year at budget time, can make a huge difference. As we have all experienced, handing the control of your gifts to God and following His lead is not a one-time-only decision. It is a decision that you have to make almost daily, often hourly! When stewardship is a regular topic, it also becomes easier to talk more in depth about what’s really in it for them. Helping people understand how stewardship allows them to explore the gifts God has given us and to find the life we were all meant to live does just that.
The conventional approach to stewardship is not wrong; it just leaves out part of the story. Because we have such a short window of time to get to the point quickly, we jump right to asking for money to finish the budget on time. We are missing a huge opportunity to build the trust and hope many people need to take the first step of opening the door when God is knocking. When we are asking people to give, it’s worth it to take the time to tell them the whole story through multiple discussions. To find out more about programs that can make it easy and even fun to talk about stewardship, visit us at HisPlanStewardship.com.