On Sunday 21 October 2018 our guest speaker was James Emmerson, Diocesan Stewardship Officer for the Diocese of Manchester.
Stewardship is a central part of Christian life and experience, and it’s vital we understand what this means, and more importantly, learn to see ourselves as stewards – God’s stewards – during our time on earth this side of eternity. A steward is simply a person who is looking after something that does not belong to them, and that is the depiction we see in the bible of how God looks at us, and how we are to look at ourselves. God gives us everything we have, and it’s crucial to understand that all that we have in this life – the time we have, the talents and skills, the resources, the money – is all ultimately His. As stewards, our role on earth is therefore to treat all that we have in that way, understanding that it all actually belongs to someone else.
There’s also plenty of evidence in the Bible that we will all be called to give an account to God of what we did with all that he entrusted us with, which may sound daunting, but need not be, if we pay heed now to the reality of being His stewards and determine that we are going to treat all that we have in that light.
When my younger daughter turned 18, she asked us if she could have our house for a party with friends. I was quite happy with the plan until I was then informed that neither myself or my wife were invited to this party! And furthermore, we were to leave our daughter in charge of our home and the party while we went away overnight! There will be many parents who have had that same request/experience and although we all like to trust and encourage our children, it would be untrue to say that there wasn’t a flicker of doubt about the wisdom of leaving our home in the care of others! However, when we returned all was well – our daughter had a wonderful time and evidently enjoyed a great evening – which was what we wanted for her, in truth. We wanted our daughter to enjoy having the responsibility, enjoying having the house to herself with her friends, without stuffy old parents around – but all the time, in the back of her mind, was just the little ‘check’ of knowing that at some point the following day, we would be returning, and would want to know how she had got on with what we had left her in charge of. That knowledge did not spoil her evening – and we didn’t want it to – but it just kept everything in the right sort of order.
And that’s exactly how stewardship works and why it’s so important. We are all like my daughter, left in charge, and encouraged to enjoy all that we have – just never to lose sight of who it all actually belongs to in the first place.
That’s why our churches become such important places for us to practice our own stewardship – the giving of our time, our energy, our money – as it helps to reflect the growing understanding of our role as God’s stewards.