My 5 year old grandson has a vivid imagination. Throughout a normal day he imagines that he and those around him are chefs, pirates, zookeepers, policemen, and a variety of other occupations. It is a fun game which requires no change in behavior, at least from his perspective! Reflecting on this causes me to consider the plight of many adolescents as they consider their future paths and what kinds of lives they will live. For our young people today, how do concepts of job, occupation, vocation, and stewardship align?
A few years ago in my doctoral studies in leadership, I was re-introduced to the term steward, or stewardship. Because I grew up in church and attended a Bible college, I was familiar with the word but understood it mainly in terms of how much I was or wasn’t putting in the offering plate on Sunday. While giving to my church certainly is a component of being a good steward, I believe we need to consider stewardship from a much larger, all-encompassing perspective; one that drives us to see the entirety of our lives within the context of Biblical stewardship.
Unfortunately, when considering our future and life decisions, individuals tend to fall on one side or the other as it relates to the concept of self. On one side are those who focus on their own desires and what is best for them. In other words, they act selfishly. On the other side are those who attempt to eliminate any consideration of self and act completely altruistically. Those seem to be our two choices: selfishness or selflessness. The first choice comes into conflict with what we know Scripture teaches and the life Jesus modeled for us to follow. The second seems out of reach and unrealistic, but it also denies the truth about each of us – that we are to live and serve out of the unique mix of gifts, strengths, passions, and experiences that God ordained for us. To live selflessly might indeed eliminate the very thing or things about us that lead to a fulfilling, fruitful, and God-glorifying life.
Here is a new perspective. Not “selfishness” versus “selflessness.” Rather “self-fullness” – “the simultaneous pursuit of reasonable self-interest and reasonable concern for the common good” (McCuddy & Pirie, 2007, p. 960). It is “fully developing and utilizing one’s God-given talents, but it also accommodates the desire to serve” (p. 961). It is “living fully” and “serving fully.” This idea of stewardship is found in 1 Pt. 4:10. “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Paul, in 1 Thess. 4:11, writes that believers are to “attend to your own business,” a warning against being a busy-body, but also an encouragement to a biblically transformed view of self-awareness. We are called to live lives of self-fullness, to bring all that Christ has made us to be to each and every situation that we find ourselves in – at home, at work, in our neighborhoods, and at our churches.
Over the next few weeks, through CACE blogs and webinars, the topic of stewardship of life and finances will be explored. What do these ideas really mean and how can we, as Christian educators, equip and motivate our students to have self-full lives? Like my grandson, I hope that each of us will be able to discover how God has uniquely wired us to work within our God-given gifts and motivations in order to live self-fully. Please join us for these discussions and add to the conversation on how we can live, love, and lead as good stewards of Jesus Christ.
Please join us for the following webinars as we explore the topic of stewardship:
Thanks for this new perspective, Phil. The picture in my mind’s eye of a people living self-fully is a beautiful one. And, schools that can foster the development of such a self-fullness are what we need today, for the common good and as well as allowing the image of God to be seen, honored, and put to the restorative and reconciling work God intends.