Terry Austin suggests that we should evaluate stewardship on the basis of a generous heart as opposed to how much money a person gives. His definition of generosity: “To be generous means that we care more about others than we care about ourselves.” Sounds like it could have come out of Philippians 2?
Austin does acknowledge that there are times in our life when we may require the majority of our money to meet our own needs. But, hopefully, we understand this as a temporary situation and when the blessing of God comes, we give generously because we care about others more than ourselves.
Again here is Terry, It is the temptation to store up and hoard for a rainy day that keeps us from being generous. When we care for others more than we care for ourselves, we are free to open our hands to release stuff to those who have needs.
Makes me wonder who are the truly generous people–generosity shouldn’t really be measured on the basis of how much people give or even on the percentage people give. Yet, if we truly care, our resources will become available. . . for others.
Thanks to Austin Pryor at Sound Mind Investing, where I found this challenging article on stewardship–Terry Austin suggests, an understanding of stewardship from God’s perspective, would turn the world upside down again.
It is a totally new way of thinking to assume that God is just as concerned about our comfort as we are. If we are not careful we will find ourselves believing that the world revolves around us and our needs. This leads to a Gospel of success instead of sacrifice; it is the broad way that leads to destruction rather than the narrow way that leads to life.
This notion that God’s purpose is to help me have a better life is especially prevalent in the way we do stewardship. When you read much of what is taught as stewardship today, you come away with the idea that the goal of stewardship is to become a debt-free member of the middle class with a well funded retirement account. In other words, the goal of stewardship is our comfort.
In reality, the goal of stewardship is to bring glory to God. With that purpose in mind, many of our decisions about the way we handle the world will radically change. If enough of God’s people could grasp this concept, we might see the world turned upside down once again.
Last week, a friend of mine that I respect, gave me the following quote from Lynn Miller, “Stewardship is the act of arranging your life so that God can spend you.” A great quote about living my life with purpose. Yet, what does it mean to arrange my life so that God can spend me?
Another friend told me about a former boss who was able to bring about significant change in their organization. My friend said his former boss was a driven man but his drivenness was a good kind of drivenness. My own drivenness has had many negative consequences for me and for others and so I was a bit confused trying to put together living purposefully, arranging my life so God can spend me and living with drivenness. Mark Buchanan in his book, The Rest of God helped me think about this topic. Buchanan warns:
“We should be a little uneasy about the pairing of purposefulness with drivenness.” He says, “A common characteristic of driven people is that, at some point, they forget the purpose. They lose the point. . . . Drivenness erodes purposefulness.” 77
Now, that resonates with me and explains much of my experience with drivenness and burnout. I forgot why I was doing what I was doing!
Maybe I like what Buchanan writes next because it appeals to my sense of time. He writes:
“The difference between living on purpose and being driven surfaces most clearly in what we do with time. The driven are fanatical time managers–time mongers, time herders, time hoarders. Living on purpose requires time management, true, but not the kind that turns brittle, that attempts to quarantine most of what makes life itself–the mess, the surprise, the breakdowns, the breakthroughs. Too much rigidity stifles purpose. I find the more I try to manage time, the more anxious I get about it.
And the more prone I am to lose my purpose.
The truly purposeful have an ironic secret: they manage time less and pay attention more. . .It’s that they notice. They’re fully awake.” 77-78
A few pages later he says, “Purposefulness requires paying attention and paying attention means–almost by definition–that we make room for surprise. We become hospitable to interruptions.” 80
Buchanan asks us, “Think a moment of all the events and encounters that have shaped you most deeply and lastingly. How many did you see coming? How many did you engineer, manufacture, chase down? And how many were interruptions?” 80
I know my answer to those questions, how about you?