Christian stewardship isn’t restricted to tithing and philanthropy. It extends to our daily vocation, to the good work our God-given talents and opportunities have called us to. Ironically, this fact is most often missed concerning the very type of workers featured in the parable of vocational stewardship, the parable of the talents. There three servants are called to use their master’s money to go into business and turn a profit. They’re called to be entrepreneurs.
This first lesson in the series affirms a variety of callings, but it pauses on the vocation of business since it is so often misunderstood. The call of the entrepreneur is a true, creative calling that should be encouraged and nurtured by the church, not disdained. It is not based on greed, nor is the wealth gained in one place necessarily wealth lost somewhere else.
God calls us to be stewards of His creation. A proper, biblical understanding of resources and of humanity’s relationship to nature provides the basis for a solid environmental ethic. It also protects us from the tendency among many in the wider environmental movement to idolize nature. This lesson emphasizes the need to distinguish between two things that often get confused. On the one hand, there's the non-negotiable biblical command to be good stewards of the natural environment. On the other hand, there are the various claims about how best to do this, claims about which people of good will and intelligence may disagree.
This second lesson in the series also encourages participants to look at the trade-offs for various environmental policies and remember that, as stewards, we often are called to make hard choices and to remember other stewardship responsibilities, such as our responsibility to the world’s poor.
One of our most basic stewardship responsibilities is to our fellow human beings in need. In fulfilling this responsibility, it’s not enough to care, not enough to “do something, anything!” We need to care effectively lest our attempts to help do more harm than good.
We also need to avoid turning this work over to distant government bureaucracies, not only because the work is the church’s God-given responsibility but also because government attempts to help the poor are often highly ineffective, both domestically and internationally.
This third lesson in the series introduces the principle of subsidiarity, the idea that family members, neighbors, fellow church members—those closest to a problem—are usually best equipped to provide effective compassion.
God has made us stewards of our cultural and religious heritage, including the civil institutions of family and church.
It's especially important that we emphasize this stewardship responsibility, because today our civil institutions have grown weaker in some quarters as the state absorbs more and more of their responsibilities.
We should protect and nourish our civil institutions, partly by insisting on a properly limited role for government, and partly by rejecting the feel-good, follow-your-impulse ethos that is doing so much to undermine marriages, families and the church.
We have a stewardship responsibility to give to the work of the church. Doing so may require us to bring our habits of spending more fully under the Lordship of Christ.
At the same time, we need to realize that we are not doing God a favor by giving on Sunday mornings. Instead, all of the wealth in our possession is God’s--wealth he has entrusted to us, both for our enjoyment and for us to use in his service. That means we need to be good stewards of all of our wealth by following time-tested principles of budgeting and wealth management.