OUR PRESIDENT AFFIRMS STEWARDSHIP
Ted Wilson is a great advocate of Biblical Stewardship. Larry Evans, Editor of the Dynamic Steward and Associate Director for
GC Stewardship Ministries, draws out his thoughts on this vital topic:
LRE: When you speak
about stewardship, what comes to mind?
TNCW: Stewardship is one of the most important
aspects of a Christian’s experience and goes far beyond financial management.
Christian stewardship has to do with the discipline of our lives in accordance
with God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit enabling us to become more and
more like Jesus. Christian Stewardship involves a disciplined use of time, and
in so doing guides how we will go about our activities, directs how we use our
abilities and manage the resources God has placed in our hands. Stewardship is really a lot about priorities:
time, talent, abilities, and, of course, personal finances. Because of our connection with the Lord, it
helps us know how to get through life and be a blessing to others.
LRE: You feel, then, that stewardship flows out of that total
commitment to Christ including but not limited to financial concerns?
TNCW: Absolutely. It’s our response
to God’s incredible love for us.
LRE: What counsel would you give for pastors in the local
TNCW: I would certainly encourage every pastor to be
focused on ways in which to bring the subject of stewardship to the forefront. Pastors do a large disservice if they believe
that stewardship is something to be left to only private conversations. It is
an important factor in guiding the spiritual experience of others. Helping
members know how to recognize and respond to the resources God has given to
them is part of the spiritual growth experience. Tithing is God’s plan. This is
not the General Conference’s plan. This is God’s plan, from the Bible! It is
simply 10 percent. The principle is absolutely the same whether the person has
very humble and modest means or if they have been blessed financially. It’s not
the amount; it is the response. I would encourage pastors to be very proactive
in helping church members understand this larger picture of what stewardship is
all about and to publicly encourage faithful
giving to the Lord.
We can’t have evangelism, freewill offerings or the returning of our tithe, if we aren’t really inspired by the Holy Spirit and have a relationship with the Lord. So I just felt we needed a very strong emphasis on stewardship along with the existing emphasis on evangelism.
LRE: Soon after your
election as president of the General Conference, you expressed your desire to
strengthen the stewardship emphasis around the world. You specifically asked
that there would be individuals at different levels of the church who would
give their full attention to stewardship. Why did you feel that was so
TNCW: I learned from a seasoned administrator some
years ago, that every area of church life is important—nothing is to be
discounted. However, I also learned that there were two areas to which the
leader ought to give strong emphasis. One is evangelism and the second is
stewardship. This senior statesman
explained that when one gets those two things correctly in place, everything
else seems to fall into place. All of the departments and activities come in
line. Of course, all of it is motivated
and inspired by the Holy Spirit. We can’t have evangelism, freewill offerings
or the returning of our tithe, if we aren’t really inspired by the Holy Spirit
and have a relationship with the Lord. So I just felt we needed a very strong
emphasis on stewardship along with the existing emphasis on evangelism. We did
encourage organizations to appoint full-time stewardship directors. If I were a
conference president, I think that this would be one of the first appointments
I would make. Such appointments in a conference or mission will help church
members see the need to become fully committed to the mission of the church and
take the time to put their talents and resources to work for the Lord.
LRE: Stewardship has been going on now for a number of years.
Is there some aspect of stewardship that you feel should receive a particular
TNCW: I do think we need to remain
very practical. Members need to know how to structure their lives so that
they’re using their time, talents, abilities and financial resources the best
way they can. It’s nice to talk about philosophical aspects and the theological
foundations of stewardship. However, if
it does not produce practical results in our use of time, our use of talents,
and, of course, in our faithfulness in returning tithe and giving of our
offerings, then we really haven’t delivered the message.
LRE: When you say “practical,” are you talking
about finances and time, or are you talking about some other practical aspects
3 is very plain. I believe God intends for us to return not only a faithful tithe but freewill offerings as
well. The practical expression of how we
use our time, talents, abilities, and financial resources will definitely
explain to others whether or not we understand that we are stewards of all that
God has entrusted to us on this earth.
individuals become disillusioned with the church. What counsel would you give
for those who are tempted to withhold their offerings when this happens?
TNCW: There’s always the temptation for people to
vote or speak by withholding money. Certainly tithe should never be withheld.
Tithe is sacred, regardless of whether or not we agree with everything that’s
happening. It’s a covenant and a relationship between us and God, and not
between us and the person(s) with whom, or the decisions with which we seem to
be having difficulty. Offerings provide an opportunity for us to choose where
to place our money – with church programs and activities we feel are effective
or with other selected worthwhile projects.
If a challenging problem exists that is preventing someone from freely
giving offerings to some worthwhile projects, the giver should work through appropriate channels to
help clarify the situation. Sometimes it is a matter of misinformation. If
there is something radically wrong, then the person should bring it to the
attention of the organization next in line
appealing that they clarify and
advise on the issue. Under no
circumstances should we simply, withdraw our funding of church projects and activities----and
certainly not withhold the Lord’s tithe. It’s not even our money. It’s God’s
money. Our tithes and offerings represent a covenant with Him and it binds us
LRE: What are your thoughts regarding a systematic approach to
giving versus project giving?
TNCW: I believe we need to recognize that with the
changing of generations, economies and cultures comes different approaches as
to the way people like to give their offerings.
We need to recognize that many people become excited about
projects. The church and the individual
can benefit when they share specific projects and when adequate information is
given about what is happening with those projects . On the other hand, the
systematic approach, where I give a certain percentage or amount, is vital to
the Church’s ministry. I will always try to give to the local church budget, to
the world mission budget and then a certain portion for conference activities
as well. After that, it’s pretty wide open as to what one would like to
provide. That’s the wonderful thing about offerings. We can choose. The Lord
allows us to return our financial resources according to our connection with
Him. It is a spiritual decision. It’s a
spiritual function to be able to return the Lord’s tithe and then give
offerings for mission and outreach
We need to recognize that
all good things come from the Lord. A
certain joy comes when we return a faithful and complete tithe, give our
offerings for church activities and give to other worthwhile projects. It just
makes me feel much more complete in God’s service and in my connection with Him
when I faithfully return tithe and give my offerings.
The signs around us indicate that we are coming close to Christ’s return. We should be even more faithful in our submission to the Lord in terms of our time, abilities and financial resources than ever before."
LRE: Any last words you would like to add to this whole idea
of being a faithful steward?
TNCW: The signs around us indicate that we are coming close to Christ’s return. We should be even more
faithful in our submission to the Lord in terms of our time, abilities and
financial resources than ever before. This is not the time to become slack in
our giving and in our sharing of what God has provided. It’s very much a part of our connection with
Jesus and allowing Him to truly take full control of every aspect of our lives,
so that we become disciples of His.
Stewardship shows, in practical ways, what that connection produces in everyday
living. At some point in the future, our
funds will be useless. What a privilege
to see them used by God today in advancing His mission of lifting up Christ,
His righteousness, His sanctuary service, His three angels’ messages of
Revelation 14, and His soon second coming. I’m just a great believer in
stewardship because it is so all-encompassing and I thank you for the
opportunity of speaking to those who are reading this very special magazine
about the great subject of Christian stewardship.