Defining Stewardship – A Breakdown of a Good Success Core Value
Stewardship is one of the most important core values we have at Good Success. When I say that, people usually nod their heads, smile, and generally seem to approve of this concept. They may even verbally agree with me that stewardship is important or tell me that they have the same core value themselves or at their company. This is really good. It indicates that we, as a society, have an appreciation for the concept of stewardship. However, I think a lot of times stewardship encompasses a lot more than most people realize.
Fully Defining Stewardship
The primary definition of stewardship is simply this: the office, duties, or obligations of a steward. Pretty simple, right? Well, maybe not. For most of us, we do not think of ourselves as stewards. We think of ourselves as owners. Accepting stewardship, particularly of the things closest and most valuable to us, involves accepting and understanding that we are not the owner of those things. This can be very, very difficult.
Nothing that we have, nothing that we have been given, nothing even that we have worked for, is really ours at the end of the day. We have been given an opportunity by God. We have been given things in this lifetime by God. We need to understand that our role in these things is to accept them and be good stewards of them, not establish ownership over them. That ownership we leave to God, who gave them to us in the first place.
A secondary definition of stewardship makes things even more interesting. Here it is: the conducting, supervision, or managing of something. Essentially, this explains that stewardship is basically the careful, responsible management of something that has been entrusted to your care. Everything you have on this earth – time, talent, treasure, money, opportunity, you name it – has been entrusted to you. We have all been entrusted with something in our lives, and it is our job to identify that thing or those things and then not just protect them but also manage them.
How to Be a Truly Good Steward
“Thanks, Tom,” you’re probably thinking right now. “You have just really confused me on a topic I thought I had a very good handle on! I don’t even know where to begin being a good steward now!”
Let me tell you about my concept of stewardship in my life. I think this example will help, and I admit I have spent a lot of time thinking very hard about this core value for me personally just as you are doing right now.
I believe that we are here not just to have, but more so to have to give. I’m sure you have heard me say that many times before. Stewardship involves being a conduit of giving and passing things that you have through yourself to others.
For a practical example, think about the role of a property manager: They are supposed to take on the stewardship of a property and improve the way that property functions. They are not supposed to just return it to the owner later in the same condition but older or in a worse condition! In the same way, you cannot just hoard your time, treasure, or talent and somehow hope it will yield results. It will do nothing but atrophy without use and, you guessed it, sound stewardship. Good stewardship involves using your abilities, whether those abilities involve adding value to a property or something else entirely.
Also, when speaking of stewardship, we cannot omit the story in the Bible about the talents. In that story, a master gives each of his servants a “talent,” or a unit of money. Two servants take the talent and invest wisely, doubling (or more) the value of the original gift. One servant takes the talent and hides it away, fearing he will lose it and be in trouble when the time comes to return it. When the master returns to see what the servants have done with the talents with which they were entrusted, he is pleased to find that two have created fantastic returns on his investment! They have been good stewards, and he praises and rewards them. I’m sure you’ve heard his words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” However, the third servant, the one that hid the talent, has a very different reception when he returns only the original talent to his master. The man is furious. He says, “Lazy servant!” and takes away the one talent he originally gave and gives it to the servant who created the biggest yield and proved he was a good steward. The poor steward now has nothing at all because he did not truly care for, manage, and supervise the treasure.
As you go about your day today, be on the lookout for ways in which you are already serving as a good steward and opportunities to improve your stewardship of the resources you have been given. Remember, everything you have is a gift. We must take our gifts of talent and treasure and be good stewards of them, doubling them all for the glory of God.