Monday, October 26, 2009

Stewardship of the Home

I've found that in Christian circles we often say things like "my money is really God's money" or "this home really belongs to God." Then again, my husband is a Certified Financial Planner and a Christian, so maybe I hear these types of things more than most. But I wonder whether, at the heart level, we actually live that way? I thought I did until I recently had to give up my home.

We had lived in our house for 9 1/2 years and needed to sell it. Although I didn't expect to live in the house forever, the timing was not of my choosing. The act of putting a For Sale sign in front of the house was excrutiating. I am a very sentimental person, and I kept thinking through all the beloved memories that took place in that home: various small group meetings, gatherings with friends and family, meals around the table, bringing my baby home from the hospital, digging all the beds around the house ourselves while the sunlight faded into evening, and so on. Our "fingerprints" were all over the house and yard. Suddenly I realized that I had an "it's mine!" attitude.

When the sign was placed in the yard and I started cleaning frantically for the first showing, I had a sudden realization: the house was never mine. It was always God's, mine only to care for and manage well. Part of managing it well would be to present it in the best light possible so that it could sell, and sell for a decent price. My mind started to shift into managerial mode and I wanted to honor God with the way I prepared and cared for the house. I proceeded with the process of letting it go, thankful for the time spent there and realizing that it did not belong to me.

The house ended up selling within a week, and everything proceeded quickly from there. But thanks to that nudging from the Holy Spirit, though some tears were shed (mostly related more to leaving precious friends), it became easier to leave the place we'd called home.

But like any other discipline, cultivating an attitude of stewardship rather than a tight-fisted clutching of a house requires practice, prayer, and consistency. It requires reminding myself of what's true.

Now I need to re-examine how I'm doing with stewardship of my body, abilities, money, and so on. I know one of the hardest things for me is to remember that my daughter belongs to God and not me and that I am raising her as His representative. That may be a topic for another post.

The Discipline of Stewardship

When we think of spiritual disciplines, we tend to think first of Bible study and memorization, prayer, and maybe even fasting. Until I read some books over the past few years I didn't realize that there were dozens, maybe even hundreds, of things that can be considered spiritual disciplines. Really, anything that assists in the molding of our character into something more like Christ's could probably be considered a spiritual discipline.

To me, stewardship is an oft-overlooked spiritual discipline. One definition (from Merriam-Webster) of stewardship is "the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care." If we consider that everything given to us comes from God and belongs to God, everything we have is really just under our stewardship and not truly owned by us, whether our bodies, our time, our money, or other resources in our possession.

The act of living as a steward of these things is a discipline because through it we acknowledge God as the owner of all while we are the caretakers.

Now that I've introduced this idea, I'll proceed to a more personal post about how this has recently played out in my life.