Stewardship Starts in the Heart

(Originally published as an article within ECCU’s former e-publication, Ministry Banking Today.)

Recently, ECCU hosted a seminar on stewardship for California ministry leaders. The topic evoked such great conversation and interest that we are extending this event to you through Ministry Banking Today. This month, we look at four elements of stewardship described by Mark G. Holbrook, president and CEO of ECCU. In future issues, we will take you inside a panel discussion on stewardship with various ministry leaders, and take a closer look at the business side of stewardship through the eyes of two ministry administrators.

According to Holbrook, stewardship is a “God-pleasing use of temporary things so that God might trust us with eternal things.” He identifies four key stewardship principles that can help us benchmark our faithfulness with the little things:

An unwavering commitment to integrity. Is good stewardship reflected in our shepherding and in our decisions? Incorporate standards of integrity and accountability into your organization and everyday decisions.

A commitment to God-honoring relationships. Stewardship requires living together in a way that gives us credibility to a watching world. Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (New American Standard Bible). How can we expect God to hand over the treasures of His kingdom to us if we aren’t faithful in our relationships?

A heart of humility. Pride and arrogance are stumbling blocks to good stewardship. We must see the utter hopelessness of doing anything right on our own. When we recognize our desperate need for God’s wisdom and for collaboration and dependence upon each other, He will lead us.

The discipline to redeem our time. Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (NASB). We must see our lives as our gift to God, and it starts with hearts that are wholly His. Redeeming the time means managing our priorities so they reflect our heart. When we are open to unexpected opportunities to bless others, we can welcome interruptions. At the end of the day, rather than thinking about the things you did, you think about the lives you were able to impact. In his book The Rest of God, Restoring Your Soul by Restoring the Sabbath, Mark Buchanan puts it this way: “How much do I care about the things I care about?…When we cease to laugh when our children laugh…or weep when our spouse weeps...that’s a signal we’re too busy…Busyness kills the heart…Busyness makes us stop caring about the things we care about.”

The Bible says we cannot serve both God and wealth. Holbrook asks, “Are we satisfied with mediocrity or are we driven to be good stewards for God’s glory? If we are simply satisfied with the status quo, we have missed the opportunity to be great stewards.”

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