Episode 1. The Myth of Stewardship (2)
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Most Christians understand the term “stewardship” – at least we think we do. Until they start reading God’s Word for real – and discover that the notion of stewardship is about …
Most Christians understand the term “stewardship” – at least we think we do, until they start reading God’s Word for real and discover that the notion of stewardship is about risk, it’s about urgency – things we so often don’t really want to hear.
It is fabulous to be with you again at the beginning of a new week. It’s going to be a great week here on “A Different Perspective” because we’re joined again today by my special guest Rick Dunham.
If you were able to catch us last week you’ll know that Rick is a man who’s been on just an amazing journey with God throughout his life during which Gods taken him down some, well difficult paths. And it’s given him a passion to help others in discovering financial security, I mean real security.
Not in the way the world promises it, we know that doesn’t work, but Gods way. Learning to find our security in Him rather than the sham promises of the whole money and wealth cycle. It’s why I’m so blessed to have him join me again today on the program.
Berni: Rick welcome and thanks for joining us again.
Rick: It’s great to be back this week.
Berni: Now if I could just ask you to briefly summarise the heart of what we were chatting about last week on air. As I understand it you’re not saying that we all have to be poor to follow Jesus.
Rick: That’s exactly right. The core of what we were talking about is that this thing called money actually can have quite a powerful influence, it does have a powerful influence over our lives. And it can unwittingly become our source of security which I think it does for the majority of people in the western world and it ends up replacing God for that source of security.
Berni: Now on Friday we were chatting about this thing called stewardship and we kind of ran out of time. So I’d like to continue that discussion, if I may, today. Just quickly, what is stewardship and why do we so often miss the point about stewardship?
Rick: The way that I define stewardship in the book is that it is the wise and effective investment of all the resources that the master has entrusted to us in order to accomplish or to produce the best possible return for Him and His kingdom. So it’s not about a tithe and it’s not about giving a little bit to God and keeping the rest for myself. It’s about seeing that everything I have has been given to me by the Master for kingdom purposes. That’s stewardship.
Berni: Now you talk about 5 main things in your latest book about stewardship. The first one is accountability, tell us about that.
Rick: Yep, accountability is that there’s an accountability ultimately to the Master. That some day we will stand before Him and we will give an account, we will give account for how we’ve used everything He’s put into our trust and I’m afraid that most Christians again don’t really believe that but it’s true.
Another thing that I’d rather focus on is that stewardship is not about saving money. One of the things that I think is a huge misstep on the part of many Christians and I think many ministries, you’ll hear this idea well we saved this money that’s good stewardship.
Berni: You’re not suggesting we waste it.
Rick: No, not suggesting we waste it at all but sometimes good stewardship means actually making an investment and spending more money because the impact will be greater. So it’s not about expense management, it’s about investment management.
Berni: And returns.
Rick: Yeah and returns. So I don’t decide whether or not how much I should spend by how much money it saves me. I decide how much I’m going to spend based on the return that’s going to bring the kingdom. So at times, yeah I should spend less because the impact is going to be less, that is why stewardship but to equate just saving money with good stewardship is a bad move.
Berni: Well in fact the parable of the talents, the 5 talents, the 2 talents and the 1 talent, it was the guy who got 1 talent who just saved money.
Rick: Exactly right.
Berni: He buried it in a hole and Jesus, the Master, comes back and He’s not happy.
Rick: No He just ripped him apart because he basically said, ‘You’re a horrible steward because you, at least put the money in the bank and earn interest’.
Rick: Don’t bury it but, it’s really interesting there. His one response was the only response that did not use the word entrust. In other words the Master said, “I entrust you with the 1, the 2 and the 5 talents. I entrust each of you with those talents.” The gentleman, the servant that was in charge of 5 and 2 both repeated back to the Master when He came back, “You entrusted these to us and therefore this is what I did.”
The one with just the 1 talent did not ever use that word. All he went on into was this huge idea that, “Lord, I was just fearful of you” and he basically said, “Now, you basically buried it because you did not want to invest it for my kingdom purposes.”
Berni: One of the things you talk about in your book is a sense of urgency and priority around our stewardship. What’s that about?
Rick: It’s really interesting when you look at that parable, Jesus uses a masterful story in, right at the outset you see them using the word ‘immediately’ they go out and invest it, immediately they put it to use. You get the sense of urgency that the things that God has put into my trust are to be put into circulation and not be put on the side lines.
Berni: So they didn’t go on a holiday in the Caribbean first. (Both laugh)
Rick: No they were very focused on making sure that what God had put into their trust, what Master had put into their trust is actually being used. I think one of the other principles too that I find fascinating is that they risked it.
Rick: They had to. If it wasn’t a risk then why did the guy with 1 talent bury it? These guys, the master was gone, it says, for a long time so they put this out into the market at risk and I think our risk for the believers as part of our stewardship is that we risk. What are we risking?
The idea that we might not get ahead. We’re risking the idea that our lifestyle may change. We’re risking the things that the world would say are most important but we’re saying, “You know what, what’s more important is I’m going to put this out for kingdom return and I might have some personal risk in that but that’s okay.”
Berni: They had to risk, I mean they got 100% return. The one with 5 got another 5, now that’s a serious return.
Rick: That’s a very serious return.
Berni: And it seems to me the thing the master focused on was not the process, it was the return.
Rick: Exactly right. The fact that they put it out there and they got the return.
Berni: Okay so we hear what you’re saying, all in, you have to lay it on the line but to someone who’s listening and they’re afraid of failing, they’re afraid of falling flat on their faces and perhaps losing money that’s really important to them, what do you say?
Rick: Well, this goes back to the verb that the master used in ‘entrusting’ it to us. Stewardship operates in the freedom of that trust of God, God’s trust rather than the fear of failure is that when we step out and invest in kingdom purposes ultimately then its God’s job to care for us. That’s the whole reason Jesus said what He said in Matthew 6, ‘You can trust Me’. Take a look at creation, if you don’t believe me, take a look at creation. And I think you’re a bit more valuable than they are.
Berni: That’s a huge mind set shift isn’t it? A HUGE mind set shift.
Rick: It’s so hard. It’s so hard because we can believe it intellectually but emotively and in our hearts, that’s a real hard one to embrace.
Berni: And ultimately Jesus is calling us to believe it with our lives.
Berni: Not in theory.
Rick: Exactly right and that’s why I say that most Christians will give an intellectual assent to the idea that God owns it all and He’ll take care of me and I can trust Him ya da ya da yudder but in fact the way we end up living out our lives we’re putting aside just in case, we’re kind of betting against that truth.
Berni: Yeah, we’ll hedge our bets against God. Ricks got a big smile on his face ’cause you’re right and for me the thing that you just said then really hit home is that when we invest all in for God it’s then His responsibility to care for us.
Rick: And He said, “I’ll take that responsibility.”
Berni: Yeah, it’s great.