Blog - Mirroring God

Stewarding Your Job

Friday, June 03, 2011

You see the flash card for less than a second. The word on it: Stewardship. Quick—say your first thought. What does that word mean?

"Unfortunately, ‘stewardship’ is a word that the church usually associates with charitable giving and tithing. It has come to refer to the small amount of money people give away, rather than the money they make and the talents they use to celebrate God in their daily lives” (Dennis Bakke, Joy at Work, p. 265).

Words—like sweaters in a washing machine—can shrink. Our church traditions have shriveled the term stewardship. In his little book, Work: The Meaning of Your Life, Lester DeKoster notes that "churches usually limit their concept of how we serve God (‘stewardship’) to formally religious activities” (p. 65).

DeKoster points out that our word stewardship came to us via the Greek word oikonomia. If you say that ancient word out loud—"oy-koh-no-mee-ya”—it sounds very much like our word for it in English: economy. "Economics,” says DeKoster, speaks of "the management of things in the world. Good stewardship is good management of things in the world.”

He continues: "Economics is the social system through which individuals organize and exchange their work and its fruits. All economic activity—such as owning property, buying and selling, employment, contracts, finance and investment, business and entrepreneurship—is ultimately grounded in people’s work” (p. 66).

In the church world, we typically use stewardship and steward as nouns. But your dictionary also lists steward as a verb. As an action word, to steward means to manage the property of someone else in a way that serves their purposes. Renters live in the house across the street from our home. The homeowners live 2700 miles away in Washington, D.C. In their absence, they have appointed a property manager to steward the place for them. The manager, of course, must communicate regularly with the homeowners to stay in line with their goals.

Your job—whatever it may be—belongs to God. As one of the "things in the world” (God’s world), your job is his property. You don’t own it. Instead, you have received a temporary right to use it to carry out God’s purposes in that particular area.

To steward your job, you’ll need to stay in touch with God to discover all of his aims in that specific area of his property. The Bible is full of God’s word on work. How many of his purposes for your job have you found?

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