Thursday, April 29, 2010

5 Prayer Needs: Need #4

Our next listed prayer need is to pray for people to grow in personal stewardship. What does this mean? Stewardship is about taking care of something that doesn't really belong to you, but has been entrusted to you. It's primarily about stuff, although it can include a broad sense of responsibility for people. What areas do I have in mind for personal stewardship?

      1. Money. Let's deal with the elephant in the room. A portion of this prayer is that people will be willing to practice good stewardship with their money. However, while I would teach that this includes tithing, it's not limited to praying people will give more to the church. It's about praying people understand that 100% of their financial assets belong to God Almighty, because He's the one that gave those assets to you. He didn't give them as your property, rather as your stewardship. I believe that it starts with trusting a tithe given back, but it doesn't stop there. We're praying that people will use all of the money they have been given for God's glory.

        Now, that takes many forms. Starving your children to send money to a televangelist isn't glorifying God. Bankruptcy rarely glorifies God. We're not talking about signing your paychecks over to the church here. We're talking about, before you buy that brand new flat screen TV to replace the one you bought last year, asking whether or not there are better ways to spend the money. Church needs, missionary needs, the needs of the poor....before you make political contributions, are there places in the Kingdom that could use it?

        {side line here: Most people are angry with Congress and Wall Street for their handling of finances. Why? Because it wasn't their money. It was, or is, someone else's money. Some of it was mine, some of it yours. They have chosen, and continue to choose, to be poor stewards of the money entrusted to them. Are we as Christians treating God as Congress and Wall Street treat us by spending His funds on our own luxuries?}

      2. Physical possessions. Now that we've talked about money, there's the stuff we've already bought with our money. Your new car. Your house that's bigger than you need. Your flat-screen TV. Your nifty new Blackberry Bold with Wi-fi (that's me)....Are you using them for God's glory? Realize that, if you've got empty seats in your car on the way to church, there are empty seats in church too, and maybe there's a correlation. How can you use your home for God's glory? Open your doors! Be a place people can come and be loved and hear about God. Pick a night and do it. Consider adopting or fostering children. These are all things that may happen as we pray for stewardship of our stuff. God has allowed us to have it, now let's prayerfully consider how we may use it!

      3. Time. 168 hours, to be exact. That's how much everyone has each week. Some of that time is fixed, it has to be spent in certain ways. Some of that time is free. We're praying that people will use their 168 hours in a manner which glorifies God fully. We're praying that, as we are good stewards of our time, God is glorified in the things we have to do and the things we choose. This is praying that our work hours will be a light for God, that our leisure activities will be worshipful, that our family times will honor Him, and that even our rest will work to further the Kingdom. We're praying here that people will choose the activities for themselves and their families that will expand God's Kingdom. That before we commit to one more ball team or dance group, one more hunting club or shopping trip, we are prayerfully asking: Is this good stewardship of my time?

        And closer in, am I spending more time on Facebook than I should? What about my TV habit? Do I really need to watch hours of BBC Sitcoms from the early 80s to survive?

Praying for others in personal stewardship is risky, though. It's easy to violate Romans 14 and start to judge our brothers for how they spend their time when we fail to consider how we're spending our own. Which is why, folded into all of the above, there are examples of some of the things I wonder about in my own personal stewardship of time, stuff, and money. As we pray, we should be driven to consider our own behavior.

We should also be driven to consider our church behavior, whether we are, as a church, being good stewards of what we have as a church. That, however, is another discussion.


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Sermon Recap for June 9 2024

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