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Resources: LLM Archives
For nearly a century, Lutheran Laity Movement for Stewardship assisted, inspired and trained congregations in important ways. LLM ceased operations on May 31, 2003, but the Stewardship of Life Institute is proud to continue its work by making its web resources available to a new generation of stewards.

Stewardship Bottleneck
By Robert Drange

When the word "stewardship" is used in the Lutheran church, money immediately comes to mind. Money is one of the many things over which we have stewardship, but by far not the only one.

Stewardship is the management and care of all that God has placed in the care of human beings. Who is a steward? Janet Morley, who is the vice president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, says that every human being on this earth is a steward because all of us, good or bad, have been entrusted by God with many gifts. As the Bible says, 'The rain falls on the just and the unjust." Some of us are good stewards and some of us are bad stewards.

I have often wondered why good Christians have such a hangup when it comes to "stewardship". After pondering this for a considerable period of time, I think that I have discovered the answer.

It is hard to believe that the root cause for poor stewardship is a simple little two letter word. It is a word that we learn early in life, long before we learn that we have and are responsible for all of the gifts God has entrusted into our care. Babies often use this word by the time they are barely one year old. From that point on, it guides most of us for our entire life.

What is this evil and malicious word? It is the simple word "my", that is, belonging to me. Infants grab something and pull it away from someone saying, "my" or "mine".

From then on, our language is littered with "my house", "my car", "my money", "my wife", "my time" and hundreds of other possessives attributing all of these things to me. Oh, I know that most of these things have been earned by my labor or effort, but what I forget is the simple fact that I really own nothing.

It is not mine, but God's, and put there by Him on loan for my use and benefit.

Once a Christian comes to this belief, then stewardship takes on its real meaning. Stewardship is the management and care of all that God entrusted to us for our use, as recorded in the book of Genesis. This lack of ownership is something we finally recognize as we pass the last minutes of our life on this earth. Then, everything that is "mine" will soon belong to someone else.

Evangelist Billy Graham has said that he never saw a Brink's truck follow a hearse to the cemetery. As a Christian steward, each of us has the opportunity to distribute God's many gifts, to ourselves for our personal use, and to others for the furtherance of God's kingdom here on earth.

If this is "my" choice, and I use it wisely, then maybe "my" can be changed from a selfish word to a good word after all.

The late Robert O. Drange was a member of Lutheran Laity Movement for 41 years and served on its board of directors.