Good Stewardship, It’s Not What You Think

“Our house is paid off!” I overheard a Mom say, gleefully. I was happy for her, really, I was. At the same time, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. Our house wasn’t/isn’t paid off. I wasn’t measuring up, once again. Hubby and I had taken financial classes at church and gotten all our our ducks in a row. We had no credit card debt. Then our ducks got shot down, one by one. Massacred is more like it.

I am a mother of seven and a Christian, both of which make me a cultural anomaly. Our family living is costly, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Let’s focus on the physical for a moment.

Seventeen years ago, husband Jerry and I internationally adopted a sibling group of four to add to our three bios. A family of nine is not cheap, no matter how you slice it. I had seven children watching me and my reactions to financial stress.

I often teetered on the tightrope of guilt and shame. At night, all of my decisions lined up in a row to harass me. What had we done wrong? Why weren’t we on track? For years, these thoughts haunted me. Finally, Jesus reminded me through His word, financial security is not the measuring stick used to get you into heaven. It’s great if you have it. If you are financially secure and use your money to bless others and invest in the kingdom, go YOU! If you aren’t, you’re storing up treasures you can’t take with you. Stewardship may not be what you think it is.

We invested in our children by attaching (time), feeding, clothing and housing (money) and spiritually (time and prayer). We could have skipped adopting in order to be more financially stable or waited until we had all of our financial ducks in a row, which probably would have been the day after never.

Some would say the Guires haven’t been good stewards of our money. As I said, our home is not paid off. We have paid off cars, only to start all over again. We’ve lost businesses. Started over multiple times. Barely scraped by. Applied principles of major financial gurus and still hit rock bottom financially.

This isn’t an article about being destitute. It’s about stewardship. As, I said, some may say that we are terrible stewards, but it is just not true. We are good stewards, just not in the loads of money in the bank sort of way. When we see a need, we feel compelled to meet that need and be the hands of Christ. Being a good steward means adopting orphans, feeding the hungry, healing the broken hearted. When we walk in the mindset of Christ, the bank account reflects it.

Jesus had no place to call home during the time of His three years of earthly ministry. He walked dusty roads and was more concerned about the needs of humans than He was His own physical comfort. He wasn’t rich and didn’t preach the American cultural idea of being financially secure, buying stocks and bonds or preparing for retirement. Jesus said to store up your treasure in heaven. Where your heart is, there is your treasure. What is your treasure?

With that said, God doesn’t believe in scarcity, He believes in abundance.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]. John 10:10

Abundance doesn’t always mean money. Let’s not take the gospel and twist it into what it’s not. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. That’s abundance. An overflowing well of joy and peace in knowing you are in right standing with God. In His will. Serving His purpose. Sometimes doing His will drains your bank account.

If anyone fails to provide for his own, and especially for those of his own family, he has denied the faith [by disregarding its precepts] and is worse than an unbeliever [who fulfills his obligation in these matters]. I Timothy 5:8

If we do not meet the needs of our own family, we are worse than a heathen. If your brother asks for a shirt, give it to him and your coat. If he asks you to walk a mile, go two. Jesus doesn’t ask us to give until it hurts, He asks us to give until it heals. Meeting someone’s physical needs often opens the door to meet spiritual ones. I’m not saying the Gospel can be bought and paid for with money.  I’m pointing out that service requires sacrifice. Sometimes (not always) that service involves draining your bank account.

Adopting children costs money. Feeding, clothing and housing them is a worthy investment of capital. They are worth the investment. Money is a means to ministry. If making money and financial security is your primary focus, then you are serving mammon.

For example, hospitality costs money, but it’s an investment into the lives of people who come into your home. Our homes are ministry tools. A giant welcome mat that says, “You Matter! You ARE LOVED!” We are being good stewards of our home if we use to bless others. If we use our homes as tools to reach out and wrap the arms of Jesus around someone, we are being good stewards.

If we our homes as tools to reach out and wrap the arms of Jesus around someone, we are being good stewards. (2)

 

Most of the sold out for Jesus, living on the fringe culturally, are not the ones with full bank accounts. They have full faith accounts, instead. They have to. While I do believe we should live disciplined lives and have great work ethic, there is not always a financial reward for these in kingdom living. Sometimes, God calls us to do something valuable and worthwhile for free. God calls us to serve, open our homes, make a donation of our time and talents (which He gave us) to build His kingdom. When He asks this of us, we must trust that He will supply the means to do so.

If you are reading this and you don’t have your house paid off, money is in short supply and you’re living your heart out for Jesus, don’t despair. Don’t compare yourself to someone who has all their finances in order. God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory. I’m not advocating running up debts. God doesn’t always supply our wants, He does supply needs. Being a good steward means using your money, time and talents to fulfill His purpose. Whatever purpose He gives you: homeschooling, adoption, running a food pantry, starting a Bible study, writing, teaching, making baby quilts, feeding college students, ______________(fill in the blank).

I have watched many Jesus followers go through a Job syndrome after they stepped out into ministry. Often these people are judged. Ministry is gritty, tough and expensive work. It requires all the stewardship you can muster. It is good, soul-satisfying work. The rewards are not of this world. Being a good steward may not mean what you think it does. Being a good steward means using everything you have for kingdom work and trusting that God will supply the means.

My Financial Trigger- Three Word Wednesday

I sorted through the bills, stacking them on the library table. My emotions took a dive when I realized how many bills still needed paid. I react emotionally to lack or the appearance thereof. Being financially stretched is a trigger for me. I don’t like knowing there are bills waiting and money not available. It’s been a struggle my whole life.

What stresses us most sometimes becomes the thing we do not speak of. We bury it, act like it’s okay or try to positive think it away. Trouble is, none of those strategies work. We end up wrestling with flesh and blood, fighting with our spouses or being overly frustrated with our children when our buttons are pushed and our joy sails out the window. If the joy of the Lord is to be our strength, then we cannot put our hope in the world. If having money in the bank is my strength, then I will grow weak when my bank account does. If having perfect hair and clothing are my strength, then I will be weak on the days that I don’t have a great hair day, have nothing to wear (you know what I am talking about ladies). If my strength is in what I can do, then I will deflate quickly when I can do nothing. If my strength is in my schedule, my get ‘er done list and half way through the day, it all falls apart, then so will my emotions.

I like my emotions to behave. I like to think that I am in control of them, but when I have a reaction like I did when I opened those bills, I know what is in control and it is not Jesus. All my EXPECTING God to supply all my needs flew out the window. I immediately started thinking about what I could do to fix the situation. I texted my husband at work and asked him if he had paid such and such. I messaged my daughter. I sped my own course. I didn’t want to listen to the counsel of reason. I don’t want to go around this same mountain again and again.

“Often we simply react to something that someone else does or says or to an experience we may have. We react with a particular thought that, if it persists, will generate and emotion, followed by an action consistent with that feeling. We move from thought to emotion to action. If we interpret the situation negatively, the resulting emotion is likely to be self-defeating. The behavior will probably move us away from what we really want, even though it may feel right and defensible at the moment. These emotional reflexes quickly become habits of mind.”- Tommy Newberry, The 4:8 Principle

Truth is, the mountain isn’t the money, the bills, kids getting wisdom teeth removed, eye glasses, medical expenses not covered by insurance, large water bills for compensating for a leak in the pool, etc.. The mountain is my reaction. My emotional down shift into the abyss. That is my problem. I may need to make some physical changes. That will not solve my reaction issue.

Only one thing will- Trusting the Lord. Finding my strength in Him. Not looking towards external circumstances for my joy. Joy can come through the circumstances, it all depends on perspective. Am I looking to the Word for answers or the world?

By your words

 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

 Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings.

 They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion.-Psalm 84: 5-7

I can spend my days going from strength to strength, increasing in victorious power even in the valley of weeping, if my Strength is in the Lord. My strength is not in me, my bank account,  my plans, my anything. It comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth, from the Lord Jesus, in whom and for whom all things consist. He is not surprised by bills. He is not even surprised by my reaction to them. I can hear him saying, stop wallowing in the dirt of the circumstances and come away with me. Enjoy the abundant life I have provided for you. I have this vision of myself crawling on the ground in a swirl of dust, covered from head to toe by it, wailing and crying, “What am I going to do?” Ridiculous but true. I think that is how God sees my reaction. He says, “Look up!” God will make a way when there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. He knows our needs before we even ask. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.

My story doesn’t end here. The great news is, with some prayer,an infusion of the Word, and readjustment on my emotions, the trigger didn’t send me too far off the deep end. I reigned in my emotions and enjoyed the weekend complete with a vigorous hike and a visit to see Grandchildren.

Raven's Rock Raven Rock Hiking Trail Ania and Me Coopers Rock

Do you have a trigger? What sends you off the deep end? How do you handle it? Are you a control freak like me trying to trust when things are out of your control?

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday.

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