Tag Archives: stewardship

Stewardship, Part 2

By C. Conrad Martin, Director of Finance

In my last article (franconiaconference.org/stewardship-october/) I mentioned four possible motivations for stewardship.  The fourth one, Worship, needs a little more processing.

Mark Vincent, in his publication, A Stewardship Manifesto, says that “it is a stewardship rooted in an experience with grace that branches out into a worshipful response.”  What has been our experience with grace that would make our life more generous?  Has it been a merciful intervention from tragedy or despair, or from experiencing the birth of a child?  Has it been by receiving a second chance to do something we should have done the first time we had the opportunity, or from receiving something totally unexpected or even undeserved?

What has been your response to receiving God’s grace?  Do you tell others?  Vincent says that telling our stories of meeting God’s grace is important.  It acts to remind us of our new identity as one who has received God’s grace, but also invites others into an experience of God’s grace.  Telling our story is a form of worship.  It keeps us aware of God’s continuing activity in our lives and gives us another opportunity to thank God.

The story of the Exodus is often told as an example of God’s grace.  Each generation of Hebrew was told this story, passed from parent to child for thousands of years and with each new hearing, there was a calling for the hearer to live a generous life.  Every time we hear a story like that, we are invited into the same kind of relationship with God.

What does your experience of grace teach you?  Does it spur you on to a different practice, perhaps a new practice of generosity?  Vincent says that telling the story again and again, keeps you in touch with God’s grace to you, to the point that opportunities to respond will often jump right out at you, causing you to interact with others in new ways.

Practicing stewardship can take at least two forms, according to Vincent: 1) the practice of giving and distributing through acts of worship and 2) the practice of love through acts of service.  The story of the Widow’s Two Mites in Luke 21 is an example of the first: giving as an act of worship.  The story of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 is an example of the second: giving as an act of service, even to the point of being so generous with one’s life that the giver doesn’t even know they are doing it.  Oh, to practice stewardship like this.

I also appreciate what Leonard Dow, in his publication Upside Down Living: Money, says about our practices: “Before we can act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly in the ways of God, we have to truly know that Jesus is Lord of our time, talents, and our treasures.”  Perhaps our practices really do reflect who is Lord of our time, talents and treasures.

 

Stewardship

By C. Conrad Martin, Director of Finance

I was reminded again during my morning devotions, from Deuteronomy 10:14 that everything belongs to God, the heavens, the earth and everything in it.  Exodus 9:29, Psalm 24:1, and 1 Corinthians 10:26 reiterate this theme.

So what.  What does this mean for us?  Matthew 25:14-30, which the NIV subtitles “The Parable of the Bags of Gold,” gives us a brief glimpse of what this could mean.  We are all given some part of God’s creation, each according to our abilities, to steward on His behalf.  We ultimately must realize that whatever we have been given, must be returned to the one who gave it to us.  So what are we doing with it in the meantime?

Luke 12:48b (NIV) also gives us the charge that “…from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  The “much” in this verse isn’t quantified, so can we assume that what we have been given is as much as our abilities can handle?  And that if we steward what we have been given wisely, our abilities can grow and more will be given to us to steward?

Mark Vincent in his publication, A Stewardship Manifesto, delves deeply into the study of stewardship, defining a steward as someone entrusted to take care of someone else’s assets.  So since everything belongs to God, the ultimate steward is someone who cares for God’s assets, even to the point of treating these assets as if they were one’s very own — although seeing how some people treat the assets they call their own, I might wonder about that.

Vincent goes on to say that stewardship is the act of willingly and responsibly caring for this charge.  He also lists four assumptions for being a steward and carrying out good stewardship:

  • it requires my service
  • it is the highest level of personal fulfillment
  • it is done in community (we are not alone in this)
  • it is done willingly

What is our motivation for stewardship?  Vincent give four possible answers:

  • Obligation, done out of some religious mandate, possibly even out of guilt or fear
  • Philanthropy, done out of love for mankind, to be a better person or a concern for one’s own well-being
  • Prosperity, done out of the belief that by managing God’s resources wisely, one will gain a material blessing
  • Worship, rooted in grace as a response to a generous God; it isn’t something you do, but rather it is something you become. Vincent quotes Lynn Miller in saying that stewardship is “organizing life so God can give you away”

So, what is your motivation for stewardship? Are you being a good steward?

Everence awards scholarships to three conference students

Three students from Franconia Conference were named recipients of Everence college scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Everence, a financial, insurance and banking services organization rooted in faith and values, offers its scholarship program each year as a means of encouraging young people to explore the integration of faith and finances while helping them on their educational journeys.

This year’s $500 scholarship recipients include Abigail Anderson, Jacob Ford, and Sarah Nafziger. The essay topic was, “Describe a person who has modeled the concept of stewardship for you. How did his or her example influence your life choices?

JacobFord
Ford

Jacob Ford, of Franconia congregation in Telford (Pa.), pursuing a degree at New York University, wrote about  William Temple Hornaday, Smithsonian Museum conservationist:

“It is not impossible that the most responsible thing to do with one’s wealth is to give it all away.  It’s not impossible that a comfortable life is a weakness and not a strength, a sign of habits overdue for upheaval.  Stewardship is, and must remain, responsibility, and Hornaday’s example in not an excuse to make deliberately bad decisions.  Yet stewardship must not prohibit the preposterous.”

SarahNafziger
Nafziger

Sarah Nafziger, of Vincent congregation in Spring City (Pa.), pursuing a degree at Penn State, wrote about her father: “Both Dad and I are stewards of the Gospel. I have learned from Dad how to take care of things well. The Gospel is different than resources, my body, or my family–with those there is only so much I can invest and give. The Gospel is a treasure that God has entrusted me with that I can give freely and still keep.”

AbigailAnderson
Anderson

The third local recipient was Abigail Anderson, of Covenant Community Fellowship in Harleysville, (Pa.).  She is pursuing a degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  In her essay, Abigail said, “My parents have taught me to be generous with everything with which God has blessed us.”

These students are among 42 recipients of Everence college scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year. About 200 students from across the country applied for scholarships – a benefit of being an Everence member – for the coming academic year. Recipients were chosen based on academics, leadership, community involvement and responses to an essay question.

“We look for students who succeed in school but go beyond that to get involved in their communities,” said Phyllis Mishler, member benefits manager for Everence.

One student received a $3,000 scholarship, three received $2,000 scholarships and 38 others received $500 scholarships for the upcoming school year. Visit everence.com for a complete list of scholarship recipients and their photos.

Everence offers banking, insurance and financial services with community benefits and stewardship education. Everence is a ministry of Mennonite Church USA and other churches. To learn more, visit www.everence.com/souderton or call 215-703-0111.