Stewardship: Simple Solutions Against Self-Absorption and Appetites
Brooklynn Wynveen shares her thoughts on the recent message entitled, “The Ripple Effect,” which discussed the lasting repercussions from one generation to the next. With a PhD from Clemson University, this doctor knows her way through conversations regarding sustainability practices and their social outcomes. Read her post below as she invites us to continue the conversation.
Stewardship is defined as “the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.” Most Christians would probably view Joseph, “the dreamer” in Genesis, as a good steward and a great manager of resources. I know I did, until this weekend’s message in our Dreamer series. Our Lead Pastor Brady Herbert described Joseph’s actions in Genesis 47, how he worked to elevate himself by taking advantage of the Egyptians’ weakness and vulnerability, to the point of enslaving them from one end of Egypt to the other. Brady also pointed out the influence of idolatry in Joseph’s decisions and actions. I love the quote he shared by Andy Crouch, where he states, “Idolatry is the biblical name for the human capacity for creative power run amok.” This is all too true, unfortunately. And that creativity, having now run amok, has led to disturbing lack of stewardship on many different fronts—social, environmental, economic, and spiritual.
Stewardship is essentially an exercise in balance and simplicity in the way we live our lives and allocate our resources—again, on many different fronts. Sometimes when we focus on economic resources, for example, we neglect our social or environmental responsibilities. Sometimes when we focus on our social responsibilities, we forget entirely about the economic sustainability of our efforts. So ultimately, we’re faced with what is at best a delicate balancing act, but what more often collapses into a huge mess. It’s no wonder that people are constantly asking for practical tips and examples about how to actually live a life of stewardship. And if you offer practical tips and examples, people will almost invariably ask for a greater quantity or a greater variety of those suggestions. I know this quite well from experience.
I think that Brady’s suggestions for how we can counteract the self-absorption and insatiable appetite for more that accompany an idolatry of self were a great jumping-off point, and I definitely think we need to be deliberate about continuing this conversation. We need to reevaluate our needs as compared to our wants, and learn to really recognize the distinction between the two. We need to consider the impact of our actions on ourselves, our families, our communities, our natural resources, and on and on. We need to prioritize our time, our financial resources, our spiritual gifts, and so forth, in such a way that reflects our Christian values and beliefs. We each need to acknowledge our individual role in caring for and preserving God’s creation, with the focus outside of ourselves.
I think one way to do that is to share individual experiences with one another and to share about an action step you want to strive towards. Do you have some practical tips and examples for how to live a life of stewardship? Use the comment link below to share your suggestions and aspirations.
Asking the question, “How can I do this (exercising stewardship)?” is not beneficial without active progress towards application. What if we made ourselves accountable to one another, allowing our brothers and sisters in Christ to call us out—in love and grace, of course—when we start showing symptoms of self-idolatry? Let’s make a commitment—individually, as a Life Group, and as a church—to make some changes in the coming 2015-2016 Ministry Plan year, and we’ll surely be blessed by the ripple effect!