get in the game
A Free Will Baptist Bible College teacher with a black belt in karate takes a closer look at the subject that makes grown men cry—the stewardship of life.
by Rebecca Deel
Find out more about Free Will Baptist Bible College at www.fwbbc.edu.
The pastor steps to the pulpit. After greeting the congregation, he announces stewardship as his sermon topic. Some in the congregation sigh; others squirm. Sound familiar? Christians often associate stewardship with dollar signs and a nudge to add more to the offering plate.
Stewardship means more than emptying our wallets, however. A good steward supervises and manages something entrusted to his care. Though not specifically mentioned, money falls under this umbrella along with other areas of our lives.
The training ground for stewardship is time management. Responsibilities press. Ball games, homework, projects, teaching Sunday School, and more. God gives us all 24 hours to worship, eat, work, spend time with family, and sleep.
So how do we create a priority list? Find a quiet corner and ask the Lord to order the day. Then spend time reading the Bible. Adopt a reading plan. We miss overarching themes of Scripture by reading wherever the Bible falls open. We don’t see how all the pieces fit together.
Last year, my husband and I challenged the WAC and Master’s Men groups in our church to read the Bible through in 90 days. Ten people finished the reading marathon, some reading the Bible through for the first time. Each testified how the Scripture came alive. One woman said even though she had already read the Bible through, this time she couldn’t wait to get back into the Word each day and find out what happened next.
A friend loved the challenge so much, she and I made the 90-day journey two more times by the end of the year. Each time I reached Revelation 22:21, I marveled anew at God’s love and goodness.
Being a good time manager includes considering service opportunities and evaluating demands on our time. We cannot do everything, though needs surround us. Be selective. Say no once in a while. Allow someone else to be a blessing.
My sons leaped into the deep end of the time management pool this year. Their event calendars are covered with school assignments, projects, band concerts, side-jobs with their father, and church youth group activities. We encouraged them to do required work first and choose wisely among what’s left.
Free Will Baptist Bible College students begin time management boot camp the minute they step on campus. The pace of college life is unrelenting. Research paper deadlines lurk at every new dawn. Teachers throw fast-pitch assignments their way. Most students learn to start the studying/working process sooner rather than later after a few all-nighters with less than stellar results.
Protect the Environment
Stewardship also extends to God’s creation or the environment. In Genesis 1:28, God gave man dominion over the created order. As caretakers, it’s our job to protect the environment. Cleaned out your car lately? Loose paper sails through open windows. Unload anything unnecessary from the car. We removed a bench seat in my minivan and gained another mile per gallon.
The Business Department at the college sponsors three paper recycle bins on campus. The vice president for financial affairs will attest to the savings from fewer dumpster pickups.
The Master’s Men group in my church recycles aluminum cans. The proceeds purchase water to give away at a town festival each fall.
Invest in reusable bags at the grocery store. Plastic bags in the cupboard take genetics lessons from rabbits.
Talent is not immune to stewardship’s magnifying glass. Are you a closet pianist or a shower soloist? Polish your song then volunteer. Listening to my sons practice the clarinet and alto saxophone, I now understand the long walks my parents took while my fingers fumbled over the ivories.
So what has God called you to do? Write the Great American Novel? Then make time to write. Teach a Sunday School class? So turn off the television and open the teacher’s manual. Serve on the Food Committee at church? Strap on the apron. Whatever your talent, use it. God gives gifts to fill a niche in His kingdom, and the niche is your size.
Get Healthy—Stay Healthy
In Romans 12:1, Paul challenges believers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice. Body stewardship is a painful subject for most of us since size two is a distant memory. Getting started doesn’t have to be intimidating. Slip into tennis shoes and go for a walk during a break or lunch. Turn up your nose at elevators. Park in the far corner of the lot. Ride a bike around the neighborhood. One of my co-workers rises at 5:00 every morning and walks two miles. She multitasks. This is also her prayer time.
Most FWBBC students are required to take two semesters of physical education. They are encouraged to participate in S.W.E.A.T. (short for Student Wellness Exercise Any Time) activities twice a week, with extra opportunities on Saturdays each semester. The ultimate activity in the spring is running or walking in the Music City Marathon. A handful of brave faculty and staff members are successful marathoners as well.
Look at your food choices. If your meal comes in a box, leave it there. Shop in the produce section of the grocery store. Make water your beverage of choice. Processed foods stay around our middles, so eat the Maker’s food rather than man’s.
Another area of stewardship is the community. Jesus told us in Matthew 19:19 to love our neighbors as ourselves. Look for opportunities to use your hands. Last summer, my sons volunteered to spend four days in South Carolina harvesting vegetables, mowing yards, and removing brush. Why? Ailing grandparents of a youth group leader needed help on their farm.
FWBBC faculty, staff, and students pulled on gloves and boots last year and cleared debris for tornado victims. They also pounded a few nails and thumbs building a house with Habitat for Humanity. Every October, the college students host “Project Pumpkin,” a harvest festival for the neighborhood.
Being a good community steward doesn’t have to include large organized events. Helping your community can be as simple as picking up trash in the parking lot, giving blood, or donating cans to the food bank.
Want to clear a room fast? Start a conversation about money stewardship. Pastors earn courage badges every time they step into the pulpit and deliver a message about money. Scripture gives us some clear directions about money.
Malachi 3:10 challenges Christians to trust God enough to tithe first, then watch Him provide. By tithing to our church, we support our pastor and Free Will Baptist ministries. No matter the check size, pooling our tithes with fellow believers multiplies the money’s effectiveness.
Proverbs 22:7 reminds readers that the borrower is servant to the lender. I teach my children and students to prefer debit cards over credit cards. When we use a credit card, the interest rate works against us. I’d rather give that interest to missions instead of MasterCard.
Tighten your belt and get rid of the albatross around your neck. Debt strangles our peace of mind and makes us vulnerable to financial disaster during economic upheavals. Attack the smallest bill first. When that bill is paid off, roll the payment into the next one. Use a standard cash-and-carry policy.
Think before you sign a new car note. Drive Old Betsy until the wheels fall off. Then look for good dependable transportation. If you hold on long enough, your next car might come with an extension cord to charge up the battery.
Keep track of your spending. You might be surprised at who’s reaping the profits. Toast Starbucks as you drive by with your travel mug full of coffee. Steer your car away from fast food restaurants. The cheapest place for books is still the library.
Be a good saver. A good rule to follow is to tithe 10%, save 10%, then live on what’s left. When we save, interest compounds and works for us. When you are five years from retirement, move your funds to more secure investments.
Next time the pastor mentions being a good steward, remember stewardship isn’t just about money. It’s a lifestyle.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Dr. Rebecca Deel is a member of the Business faculty at Free Will Baptist Bible College. The mother of two sons is program coordinator of the local WAC and serves as pianist at LaVergne Free Will Baptist Church in LaVergne, Tennessee.