-by Pastor Mike Middaugh
In his 2010 TED Talk titled “An Economic Reality Check“, economist Tim Jackson stated that we are “being persuaded to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to create impressions on people we don’t care about.”
He made this statement after presenting a chart showing that since the early 90’s the savings rate of American households has been plummeting while at the same time debt has been skyrocketing. It seems, he suggests, that we are living in economically unsustainable ways.
In many ways it does seem like there are more and more strains upon our budgets (and our time, attention, and energy). Adam Smith wrote over 200 years ago that to “go about without shame,” one needed at least to have a linen shirt and a pair of leather shoes. Today however, a life without shame seems to demand not just a nice shirt, but also a working vehicle, a smartphone, an HD television, computer, iPad, and access to WiFi, not to mention all the household “basics” we probably could not imagine life without.
One could argue that with all the demands in our lives there is no room to also take into account the Biblical principals of stewardship, but I would suggest just the opposite. In a world that seems to be moving faster and faster where we may feel like we are always trying to catch up, it may be even more important that we take inventory of our lives and conscientiously determine how we are going to manage our world.
For Christians, this idea has its roots in the basic principle that everything that we have is not really ours, but that it belongs to God. God has created it. God has allowed room for us to make use of it and find enjoyment in it. But God has not actually given it away, we are just caretakers (stewards) for a while.
This understanding helps us to keep things in perspective.
If what we have is not really ours, but God’s, then a good manager would put God’s priorities first while managing it. Similarly, if we think of the things in our lives as only temporarily in our possession then we should live with a much broader and more long-term mindset.
Ultimately, everything in our lives is intended by God for our good, our use, and our enjoyment. But we should also be aware that our wealth, our abilities, our work, and the way we spend our time is intended to bring good not just into our own lives, but into the lives of others as well. This is a much more holistic and sustainable way of viewing what we have and it should cause us to create certain priorities for ourselves.
- As I manage my finances, I am going to reserve a certain percentage for giving away, for supporting those things I believe God cares about.
- As I look at my weekly calendar I am going to manage my time with certain priorities marked out first – perhaps time for worship, family, and health would be at the top.
- As I consider my talents and gifts, those abilities I believe God has blessed me with, I will make sure that I am using them in some ways to benefit others, setting goals for myself that will help me accomplish this.
With the topic of this email you may have guessed that it is that time of year at Calvary when we dedicate some time to stewardship. This topic is larger than just money, it really is a conversation about our lives. Our Consecrated Stewards series will begin November 1st and conclude with an opportunity to place pledges before God on the altar on Sunday, November 15th.