By Philip Eubanks, Assistant Vice President for Stewardship and Planned Giving
When asked why they give to Johnson, many friends and alumni highlight the blessing they receive from giving. Recently I visited a couple, both alumni, who expressed how much they appreciate all the help they received when they were students. They are quick to recognize the many ways God has blessed them over the years and the joy it brings them to be able to help students at Johnson today.
What is behind such joy? Is it just a warm feeling or is there more to it?
I think it is common for people to view giving primarily as an obligation or responsibility. Many of the friends and alumni I talk with have grown much deeper in their understanding.
Scripture does teach that we have a responsibility to give, but God invites us to a deeper relationship and understanding. In a previous article, I highlighted that as redeemer, God is the ultimate Steward (big “S”) over all he created (Ephesians 1:9-10). Our stewardship (little “s”) is really about participating with God in his much larger stewardship of all creation.
Both Jesus and Paul reveal more about the nature of this partnership. Jesus told his disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (Johns 15:15). Paul wrote to the Galatians, “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir” (Gal 4:7).
In his book A Theology for Christian Stewardship, T.A. Kantonen develops this richer understanding of Christian stewardship: “When the concept of stewardship is developed in its total New Testament context, it implies even more than trusteeship and responsibility. It contains the idea of partnership. The relation between master and servant gives way to the relation between friends working together for the realization of a common purpose….This partnership is furthermore the partnership of father and son….Christian stewardship is a family affair. Not merely to work for God as his agents and administrators of his property, but to work with him as his children, sharing his purposes, his resources, his very nature–such is the high status of Christian stewards” (emphasis added).
Stewardship is about so much more than fulfilling a responsibility. It is about embracing our identity as God’s children and the opportunity to partner with him in his kingdom-family business. Don’t miss out on the joy and fulfillment that comes when your giving flows from your identity in Jesus and your desire to partner with God in his redemptive work.
More to think about:
In a business, an employee is typically most concerned about knowing and fulfilling his or her responsibilities. How may the attitude of a partner differ from that of an employee? What is a partner concerned about? What about you? How might your attitudes and financial practices change if you approached stewardship more as a partner in God’s “family business”?