Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Stewardship of Life

I wrote the following article for our Message page in the next issue of Word&Way:

I have always loved the fall with its cooler weather and beautiful autumn colors. Every year I wish it would last a little longer. It seems the leaves just reach their peak colors and then they fall and fade away. Bettie Jo and I have been riding bicycles on the Katy Trail this fall and the colors have been wonderful. I guess I also enjoy watching football games in the fall, too. I enjoy all the seasonal changes, but I must admit this is my favorite.

I also enjoy the weeks leading into a season of Thanksgiving.
Incredible as it seems, we are only a few weeks from our annual Thanksgiving holiday. I am not sure how much time we spend “giving thanks.” When I was serving as a pastor I almost always shared a series of messages during November on Christian stewardship. Sometimes I even have a chance to preach on stewardship during an interim pastorate. I know it may seem strange, but I have always loved to preach on stewardship.

My father always preached on Christian stewardship.
I was in seminary before I discovered that many pastors are hesitant to preach on stewardship. In reality stewardship is an outgrowth of Christian discipleship. To be a Christian means to bring our entire lives under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. Christian stewardship is a recognition that all of life is a “stewardship” given to us by God. We are accountable to God for how we use our lives—time, talents, energy, gifts, etc. I am pretty sure that includes our finances. I learned at an early age that God was not just interested in what I gave to my church through my tithes and offerings, but he was just as concerned about how I used the rest of my resources.

Each of us is a steward of life and responsible for our choices.
Just as we hold the charitable causes we support accountable for how they use our gifts, we are also accountable. Churches are also accountable. Our convention is also accountable. We are accountable to the churches we serve and to all those who support our ministries. Ultimately, we are accountable to God. Maybe the best way to “give thanks” to God is to use wisely the resources he gives us. Given the difficult economic conditions we are confronting this year it is a particularly important time to be good stewards.

I regret that some believe using tithes and offering to fund litigation against faithful Baptist ministries in our state is a wise use of these resources.
Our convention leadership has a different perspective. We want to invest our resources in these ministries rather than attempting to control them or harm their ministries. If you are looking for a way to channel your gifts, we are available to serve you. The Baptist General Convention of Missouri forwards all gifts as instructed by churches and donors. None of our resources are used for litigation. Our mission is to serve churches and church leaders as they fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. We would love to partner with your church as you live out your stewardship of life.