A Change of Heart

Our intentions were good, but…

Many years ago, I became aware of “stewardship”. I had been asked to serve on the stewardship committee at Buncombe Street and help with communications. I didn’t know what Christian stewardship was, or what function this committee provided for our church.

Over the many years of serving with other members on this committee, I have gone from knowing very little about stewardship, to knowing the wrong things, to having a better understanding. Through this process we communicated what I now consider “misinformation”. Our intentions were good but the messaging did not stem from the basic principels of Christian stewardship.

What did we learn?

First, God owns it all. Everything …material processions, time, money. Everything is on loan. When we die, we won’t be taking our phone or car or house with us. Second, we’ve been entrusted to steward, or responsibly manage, the gifts God has blessed us with. Third, we’ve been asked to use these gifts, to magnify Him, to glorify Him, to delight Him by loving one another and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Where did we go wrong?

As I mentioned, years ago our stewardship efforts were mostly about money …fundraising to meet the church’s operating budget. We prepared “campaigns” to raise money. We followed the United Way model, tracking pledges as they were received, sharing our progress with colorful thermometers, and culminating the “campaign” on Consecration Sunday. Again, our intentions were good, but our messaging was misguided.

Looking at stewardship through a new lens.

Fast forward to 2016. Pastor Bob recommended that the stewardship ministry team seek advice from Doug Himes, a Christian stewardship specialist. Doug began to educate our team (committee) and over time, we began to view stewardship through a new lens. You could say we began to have a change of heart.

We learned that stewardship is an act of worship and God has blessed each one of us with special gifts. He has entrusted us to use these gifts to glorify Him, by using these precious gifts wisely to advance His kingdom.

We learned that our natural tendency is to use work, possessions and even people as leverage for our own purposes, in order to achieve our own goals. But by trusting God, we can learn “to live loosely” with our gifts and “let go” of some the worldly things that we think are important, like status and wealth, which can be distractions and limit a growing relationship with God.

We learned that life is a gift, not gain. Instead of using these gifts as a means to greater personal gain in the world, we were encouraged to take time to enjoy the giving and see God in the giving.

What does stewardship look like on a daily basis?

For me personally, this new understanding of stewardship has been an exciting transformation in my thinking and has influenced my behavior. In January, I turned 65 years of age. I never thought I’d be that age (read “that old”). I realize my time on this earth is limited. I figure, God willing, I may live 25 to 30 more years. The reality of my limited time has moved me to live more purposeful.

With an awareness of my limited time and a new understanding of stewardship, my waking thought and prayer on many mornings is, “Lord, I’ve got 16 hours today, how can I be a good steward of the time and the resources that you have blessed me with on this day? Help me to be a good steward today. Guide me today to do the things that will glorify you”.

This new lens I’m seeing through, …this change of heart, has been exciting. Inconveniences are more frequently seen as opportunities. I am experiencing more joy in giving of both time and money, because, I believe and trust I am living more purposeful. “Letting go” is easier because I know that I can’t take it with me. I’m more aware of and grateful for simple pleasures, like a rainy day, a quiet morning, a good meal with friends. Relationships with family and friends are richer. Things seemed to have slowed down.

Maybe you’ve known what I’ve just recently learned. If not, I pray that you will begin to see and experience stewardship as I do, with new eyes. It’s exciting. Every day is a new opportunity for each of us to use our gifts to glorify Him, and in turn, our relationship with God will be strengthened.

– Gaines Huguley