In looking up the definition of the word, I learned that it is both a noun and a verb. The word applies to both who they are and what they do. We are God's stewards. Are we good ones or are we poor ones?
The topic I am writing this blog about is a rather touchy and emotional topic for a lot of people so I want to start out with this disclaimer. This blog is not about how to get rich or how to get God to do what you want Him to do. It is not a "formula" you can use so you can buy a 10 million dollar home or take a trip to some exotic place like... New Zealand. :wink:
This blog is about setting priorities in place and using wisdom in handling what God entrusts you with. It is about getting yourself out of bondage to lenders and set about the business of truly being God's steward.
First of all, it is time for us to admit that we have at times misappropriated funds which God has given us. If you think that sounds a bit harsh, it is. Harsh but true... if we are honest about it. How often have we spent money we don't have to spare on things which we really don't need. Notice I said "need". Does this mean you should live in a cardboard box? No. A cardboard box is not adequate shelter and we all know it. There is nothing wrong with living within our means provided we do not shortchange God (or others) in the process. The problem is, too many Christians aren't living within their means. They're living beyond their means which means they are enslaved to debt and their debt or money, becomes their god.
If you think I'm carrying that to the extreme, consider this. When you are in debt (particularly if you are struggling to make the payments), what do you focus on the most? What motivates your decisions? What influences your giving (or not giving)? Is it on God or is it on money... how to earn more, who to pay, who not to pay, to give or not to give, etc? Who is ruling your life?
Once we admit our guilty (easier said than done), we must come before God, admit that we have been a poor steward and seek His forgiveness. I'd like to give a word of warning though. When we do this, we are tempted to blurt out excuses for our behavior. "Well Lord, you know this happened and so I had to borrow money. If you would have provided for me... I wouldn't have to have done that." Leave the excuses at home. Better yet, take them out to the trash! It is not God's fault you are in a financial mess! It is yours! I know I probably have some people howling now about how they got sick, lost their job, etc. Trust me. I know all about that. Read my profile. Listen carefully. When these things happened to us, we wouldn't have gotten into the mess we did IF we had listened to God and not tried to solve the problem by borrowing more. I've done it both ways folks and I've learned one way works and the other way just makes the hole you're in get deeper.
After you have repented, ask God to teach you to be a better steward. This is a daily process which requires effort. You can't pray, "Help me be a better steward" and not change the behavior which got you into this situation in the first place. Nor is God going to wave a magic wand and drop a pot of gold in your lap. He could but you would have learned nothing and a day, a week, a month, a year or even years later, you would be right back where you were.
Every day ask God to help you make wise choices. Observe the habits of people you know who are good stewards. What do they do? Add the words no and wait to your vocabulary and use them on yourself as well as others. There are also a lot of resources out there on Christians stewardship.
Finally... make giving a priority. Yes, you read that right. I know you are supposed to be trying to save money but you must remember. A steward does not just receive money. A steward disperses it as well, according to their master's will. It is the will of God that we give tithes and offerings. It is the will of God that we give. Now, some people will say, "I give my time." Good! We should give our time but... I don't believe that exempts us from also giving our money as well. When we give financially we are saying three things.
- We are acknowledging that God has given to us.
- We are acknowledging that it is His money, not ours.
- We are recognizing that money is not our provider, God is.
Over the past four years, I've faced a couple of very serious health issues. I was unable to work during most of 2008 as I was undergoing dose dense chemotherapy and was quite ill. I received partial pay during that time but it was a major financial hit in our household. I did not work for nearly two months during December 2009-January 2010 due to a ruptured brain aneurysm which hospitalized me for 12 days. I did not receive any pay from January until nearly the end of February. That was another major financial blow. Thirteen months ago, it was determined that due to the after-effects of the last incident, I was no longer able to work. While I received partial pay for the remainder of the school year, I was not granted long term disability until the end of September. We had three major financial blows between January 2008-January 2011. The last one has been the most devastating as it was more permanent in nature... at least that's the way it should be.
In the past, I tried to solve the problems my way. I tried to do what looked good (and easiest) to me. I borrowed, I shifted things around, I worried that there would not be enough so I gave rather reluctantly at times. It didn't work. All I was doing was treading water.
This last time really scared me. I knew... I knew that I didn't stand a chance of digging out of this hole on my own. I HAD to do it God's way so that is exactly what my husband and I did. We did all of the things I mentioned above putting God and giving as our top priority. It was not an option.
Thirteen months later, we have paid off thousands of dollars in debt. We have reduced our monthly bills by more than $500.00 and that number will be going down more in the near future as we are about to pay off two more debts in full this spring and the possibility of refinancing our house is looking much more likely this spring as well.
Yes, we have a long way to go but with God's help and our obedience and being good, faithful stewards, we have made great strides and are actually more stable and secure than we were 13 months ago. As for giving...well... we have been amazed at what God has enabled us to do; not just financially but in others ways as well. LOL! We even have another adult living under our roof at the moment. We couldn't afford to do that but we decided to let God deal with that problem... and He has!
Are you being a good steward? If not, you can change that... today!