PERSPECTIVE

The Steward and Beyond

The steward is the supreme authority under the Master and bears full responsibility for the Master’s possessions and affairs! The steward not only has an awesome responsibility but consider the potential opportunities a steward can accomplish in a lifetime! Have you recently reflected on the opportunities life has given you? For example: managing resources successfully through the last economic downturn; being able to make the last educational payment for the children; participating in the mission and ministry of the gospel commission with God-provided time, talents and finances at your disposal? There are times when life brings great challenges to the faithful steward. It is then that a steward realizes no matter what financial, parental or health issues we face, we can turn to prayer—realizing that all things work together for good and in God’s timing.

As stewards our only responsibility is to be faithful! God rewards faithfulness, regardless of the amount for which we are responsible.

As stewards our only responsibility is to be faithful! God rewards faithfulness, regardless of the amount for which we are responsible. We are required to be faithful whether we are given much or little. It is not what I would do with a hundred thousand dollars, any more than what I do with the hundred dollars I have. A steward is faithful with what he is given. Scripture provides the guideline in 1 Corinthians 4:2: “Now it is required that those who have been given trust must prove faithful.”

Throughout our lives, stewardship values are constantly being clarified through learning experiences, the study of Scripture and understanding parental influences. As Christians, we understand that God is the Creator and Giver of all for which we are called to be stewards. The question we must all answer is, “What legacy will I leave for my family and friends?” As we progress through life as stewards, we will be confronted with several change points. These may be the transition to a home without children, experiencing preretirement activities and then retirement planning itself. It is during this time that we look beyond the present day and begin to focus our thoughts and attention on what will be our legacy. This is when we contemplate our stewardship responsibilities to God and family as it relates to our accumulated assets.

The Planned Giving & Trust Services Department is really an extension of stewardship ministries. Planned giving, charitable gift planning and the older term used, deferred giving, all refer to charitable contributions made with some level of professional guidance. Charitable gift planning perpetuates the donor’s values. That which has been valuable to a person in life will also be valuable at the end of this life. Donors plan through various estate planning documents such as a bequest in a will, a Charitable Gift Annuity or Charitable Remainder Trust to make it possible

for churches and institutions to carry on their work. Charitable gift planning will become more important in the years to come as stewards look for effective ways to generate lifetime streams of income and make provisions in support of that which has been valuable to them in their lifetime.

Gary Dodge
Gary Dodge is Director of Planned Giving and Trust Services for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He holds a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving designation from the American Institute for Philanthropic Studies.

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