When I was in eighth grade, our school took a week-long trip to a camp down in Tennessee, where we spend our time in nature. This is where I first experienced a high ropes course, mountaineering, cave spelunking, and cooked my first “hobo pack” on a campfire. I also met my first British guy, who was serving as a counselor there at the time. Truly an 8th graders utopia: No school, best friends, and cool accents. Most memorable though, was the whole food situation.
It was delicious! Next-level eating…really! The problem was, whatever you did not eat, we had to put on a chart. Each camper could take as much of whatever they wanted, but if you did not clean your plate, we had to weigh the “waste,” find its total mass and chart the data. The complete opposite of an 8th graders utopia.
This created a system where we had to strategize our meals. Start off small, you can always get more. Be extra careful with condiments, because yes, you would have to weigh the mustard left on your tray. Most importantly, do not tick off your allies. You would need them to eat your leftover scraps if you became fit to bust.
At the time, the whole situation seemed so silly. It was just the teacher’s attempt to put the school in an otherwise awesome field trip. But now, years later, there was an obvious lesson here the staff was trying to teach. Do not waste what has been given and entrusted to us.
Scripture has been challenging me lately, and I cannot help but think maybe, just maybe, my eighth-grade science teacher was channeling her inner Jesus during that school trip. The recurring motif that Jesus is constantly using with His disciples is one of stewardship.
It is funny how most people immediately isolate this topic into the realm of money. But honestly, if God is not fully in charge of your finances, that is on you. We are called to manage our money in a way that honors God, yes, but Jesus is calling us to steward everything we can get our hands upon.
- Christ-followers should cultivate and tend to the environment in the same way that God provides for individual sparrows and dresses each flower in a field. God is creative and is shown to care about the meticulous details. He’s a God that takes His time. Humans are described in scripture as renters of this world, and our benevolent Landlord gives us the fruit of the land for our pleasure. It is our job not to take advantage of that, but ensure that it lasts.
- In the gospel of John, we see an interaction between Jesus and His disciples, one that has always really stuck with me. We know that quite a few of the twelve were fishermen by trade, with years of experience to hone their skills. After Jesus was killed, a few of them went back to their personal sanctuary, that of the open water. But after a restless night of hard work and nothing to show for it, Jesus appears to them on the shore. He hollers out some unsolicited advice, to simply cast their nets on the other side. The result was more fish than the boat itself could handle.
We each have been blessed with gifts that are tailored to us, and our life experiences bring us skills and lessons learned as well. As Christ-followers, we should allow Jesus to utilize these gifts for the betterment of His Kingdom. It is our job to recognize and affirm such gifts, given to each individual, and ensure they have an opportunity to thrive. Stifling the things God has given us not only puts out our own fires, but we remove the potential that comes from sharing the resources entrusted to us.
This past summer, I was able to marry the one woman who is willing to stand beside me while I sing out loud in the checkout line. Truly a treasure of a human being. As we took our vows with the June heat beating down, God entrusted us to each other.
While there is still breath in our lungs, I believe God is calling us to steward specific relationships that have come across our paths. Yes, we are to be servants to all, and we should treat everyone with the inherent value each person has. But there does seem to be something more, though, when you think about spouses, children, dear friends, and disciples. These are lives that Jesus calls us to prioritize; people to which we are to invest and give ourselves.
When discussing the last grain of sand falling through the hourglass, Jesus described it as mysterious as a thief in the night. No one knows how much time is left before our world is fully restored to glory, nor is it actually important to know. What would it change? Christ-followers are already ushering in the Kingdom little by little each day. So the end of time has always been a little too macro for me to grasp. I’m infinitely more interested in the micro; the time left for myself and loved ones.
Culture reminded us tragically, once again, of this reality with the abrupt death of Kobe Bryant, his young daughter, and seven others. A very well trained helicopter pilot and eight basketball-loving individuals were simply traveling to a basketball game -- something they did all of the time.
The world is filled with the ever-chanted “YOLO” and “Carpe Diem,” which is a nice sentiment, but I’m not sure these buzzwords fully capture what Jesus is calling His followers to. Jesus is reminding us that the end is unknown, so we should be stewarding our time here well. And if asked what the best possible way to spend our time would be, Jesus would respond by ensuring the people around you know they are loved.
We simply do not know what tomorrow holds. So for today, we should be inclined to hug those near us a little tighter and remind those not-so-near us how important they are. This time would be stewarded in a way with more eternal value than finally taking that trip to Paris. Because if someone would ask Kobe’s wife what she misses most, a hug from her husband would probably rank higher than another bucket list item checked off. Stewarding our time well looks a lot like taking advantage of, and cherishing the mundane.
As Brethren, we recognize responsible stewardship as a value whose reach is far longer than our checkbook. Instead, it is something that Jesus is continually calling our attention towards, emphasizing the breadth of its bandwidth. While we are still here, we are to be good, healthy, and responsible stewards. Period. Whether we are scraping every crumb from our tray, or hugging our wife before work, seek God’s wisdom to steward well.