Kent A. Hansen, JD
Clayson, Mann, Yaeger & Hansen
Summary: Stewardship is a way of life that acknowledges one’s allegiance to the Lord in everything from breathing to managing business affairs.
Stewardship is a life lived in acknowledgement that none of us is our own person to do as we please. We are bought with the price of the Savior’s own life (1 Corinthians 5:19). The steward knows that his or her life, property, income, influence, and relationships are the possession of God for “It is He who made us and not we ourselves, and we are His” Psalm 100:3, margin.
Stewardship is much more than a concept or set of principles. It is a way of life that acknowledges one’s allegiance to the Lord in everything from breathing to managing business affairs. To treat stewardship as only a financial concept is to deny its spiritual power.
To bring followers of Christ to an understanding of the fullness of stewardship is a challenge, but essential. It is tempting to address this challenge to church members by simply preaching a sermon on tithing once in a while or bringing in a financial planner for a seminar. But the Lord deserves and requires that His stewards be prepared spiritually and practically for their duties.
How to organize a study group or seminar on stewardship
A group study or seminar on biblical stewardship is the place to start to awaken men and women of the call to stewardship that is common to all followers of Christ. This can be done simply from scripture.
Goals and outcomes
It is key to the success of such an event to clearly have in mind what is intended that participants will take away from the time they spend together. In other words, “What will be the user value to those who attend. This requires prayer, focus, and careful planning.”
Have a businessperson who loves the Lord and is known for integrity as well as success in business give a talk on “What It Means to Me to Serve the Lord in Business.”
Don’t be shy about talking with the speaker in advance about what you want to accomplish with the meeting, providing a theme to them, and asking them to discuss their remarks with you in advance.
The talk should be well thought-out, concise, and should not be a commercial for the speaker’s business or a financial product. What you are looking for in this part of the program is an introduction, not answers to every question.
Then divide up the group into smaller groups. The optimum size of a group for discussion is no more than five. Designate leaders in advance who you have trained in what the vision is for the program and what their role is in encouraging discussion.
The group leaders should be familiar with the scripture passage to be discussed and give thought to how it applies to their own lives. A list of questions for discussion should be prepared ahead of time.
The discussion must open with prayer. The group should be told that this is a discussion not a lecture. Pressure should not be put on a person who is hesitant to speak, but it is good to ask that person to read the texts that may come up in the discussion.
Stick to the topic being discussed. Group leaders should not be reluctant to pull the discussion back to the point. Encourage participants to listen to each other. The group leader should intervene if one person attempts to dominate the discussion by asking others for their opinion. “That’s helpful. Mary what do you think about that point?” Be mindful that certain topics should be prohibited like church politics and personal criticism of someone.
If all the groups are meeting in the same place at the same time, you may want to bring them together at the end for a few thoughts to be shared and prayer. But prayer is meaningful in the intimate surroundings of the group. A very effective technique is to start with the person to the left of the leader and have that person pray for the person to his left with a brief simple prayer for their blessing based on thoughts that the person being prayed for shared during the discussion. This helps keep prayer focused and relevant to the topic and the participants.
Set a time for a wrap-up of the discussion. Perhaps, 45 minutes with 15 minutes for prayer.
If food or refreshments are to be served, it is best to do so after the discussion, not before. It is easier to start on time when the eating comes at the end. The group keeps a better focus during the discussion because the personal items typically discussed during a meal become a warm, hospitable way of wrapping up rather than a diversion from beginning the discussion.
Sessions of this kind should not be rushed. It is better to hold a number of them in a series.
Here are some scriptures that reflect an open and expansive view of stewardship. All scriptures are taken from the New International Version.
Matthew 25:14-30: “It will be like a man…who called his servants and entrusted his property to them…he gave to each according to his ability…For everyone who has will be given more…whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”
Luke 12:42-48: “Who…is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants…? From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
Luke 21:1-4: “Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury…a poor woman put in two very small copper coins…this poor widow has put in more than all the others…these people gave gifts out of their wealth…she…put in all she had to live on.”
1 Corinthians 4:1-7: “Men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust prove faithful…”
John 1:14-18: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us…From the fullness of His grace we have received one blessing after another….”
2 Corinthians 9:6-11: “Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously….”
Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you…For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Mark 4:21-25: “ Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?”
1 Corinthians 3:5-9: “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow….”
1 Peter 4:8-11: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms….”
1 Corinthians 9:14-27: “I am simply discharging the trust committed to me…I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
What you are looking for is the participant’s deeper, richer understanding of stewardship in all its dimensions as a calling.
It can be especially meaningful if a member of the group reads the scripture while the others listen quietly and then give what word or phrase stands out to them as they listen. Then someone else can read it again and the others can listen and then give what thought or emotion is stirred in them by the Word. Then another person can read the scripture a third time while the others listen and then speak to what action that scripture calls them to do.