Two keys to faithful stewarding
Exactly what does it mean to be the
steward of what God has given us personally and collectively? And just what
is required? Theological debates on stewardship pivot on just
these questions, and two key principles can guide us: accountability and
When he spoke last week at Gettysburg Seminary, theologian Douglas John Hall
said these two elements arise from the biblical witness and provide enormous
insight into what we are to do and how we are to go about it. We'll be
exploring and sharing more of Hall's insights over the next few weeks, but
we'll start with accountability and responsibility.
Accountability implies several thing, says Hall. First, we are not
the boss. We are not free to do whatever we wish with the resources God has
entrusted to us. Human beings are not the CEOs of creation, but rather the
servants who must answer to a higher authority for stewardship and
For example, in the familiar Gospel parable of the servants and the
talents, the servants are held to account for what they did with the
master's money. It is not enough to keep the money safe, the servants are
expected to show results from their stewardship. They are rewarded or
punished accordingly. They are
held accountable for their decisions.
Next, responsibility implies ability, says Hall. The fact that God has made
people responsible for their gifts and for creation implies that God has
given us capacity to make wise choices. In the parable, the servants are
given the talents, but not specific instructions what to do with them. The
master simply expects them to draw upon their intelligence and good judgment
to sort out various options and settle on a good one.
So as we engage the many challenges of personal, congregational and social
stewardship, we can assume that God has not only given us the intelligence
and good judgment to make wise decisions, but also that God expects us to.
And that Gold will hold us accountable for the results. Accountability and
responsibility: Two keys to faithful stewarding.