INTERVIEW

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

churches?



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.

Ted

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

important?



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

emphasis?



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

of stewardship?



TNCW:   Malachi

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.



LRE:   Sometimes

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

to Him.



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

activities.



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.

Ted N.C.

Wilson
President,

Seventh-day Adventist World Church

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