Stewardship Pt.3


Dropdown_Paradigm~ Image from

I’ve been talking and thinking about Stewardship a great deal recently. Stewardship is truly a work in progress. It is not something that is automatic. I believe at one point in time it was automatic but somewhere along the way the thought was not passed down from one generation to another. I know this is certainly not the case for me. My wife sent me a link to a blog post over at Charming the Birds from the Trees that I found both inspiring and a bit convicting. I have found Stewardship to be a difficult row to hoe. The thing is those things that are truly worth it are difficult and take investment. We are in a society of mass production and instant gratification. If we want something chances are it is out there had can be had quickly and cheaply. On the surface this appears like it is a wonderful thing… who wouldn’t want to have everything at their fingertips and cheaply at that. The problem is that the value of something is tied to the resources spent on it. Be that time or money. This is why things are cheap…we have perfected the manufacturing process decades ago then we add cheap materials and cheap labor and we have a product we can send out quickly to the masses cheaply. Problem is because it was made cheaply with cheap materials and labor it breaks easily or is not really usable as advertised. The company doesn’t care that just means you’ll go buy another one and they will make more money. This is actually an economic concept called planned obsolescence; where a product is designed to break or wear out after a set time…usually quickly. This low quality combined with the consumerism culture is taking its toll on us. If we want to admit it or not we are damaging ourselves and the earth.  According to the EPA in 1960 88.1 Million Tons of garbage was produced… in 2011 that number was 250.4 Million Tons.* (to be fair thanks to concerted recycling efforts that number is slightly on the decline) Not including the environmental toll of manufacturing and shipping that alone is a huge increase in strain.

What is the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on. ~Henry David Thoreau

The environmental impact is an easy one to see but what about the silent erosion of ourselves…this is harder to see. As we diverge from the quality things in life and into the cheap (and I am not just speaking of materialistic things here) we lose the sense of value these things have. Speaking materialistically if we elect for cheap tools we will care for them less and less. They will be left out in the weather, fail to keep up proper maintenance, or maybe even become lost forever because what is the point…I can always get another “new” one for cheap. It is here, in this mindset, we loose the stewardship of the things we have. I can tell you from experience it is easier to take care of a $80 ax than it is a $20 one…it is worth so much more and is less replaceable (especially when you have to run all over town to find it).

Another unfortunate side effect has been we are exchanging real quality experiences for fake virtual ones. It was only a natural progression really…once we started replacing quality for quantity and real for artificial it was only a matter of time that we did the same with our relationships. With the invention of the internet and social media we have replaced meaningful deep relationships with shallow ones. Face to face relationships are becoming fewer and fewer with the majority occurring with our coworkers or other in our church. We have lost the connection to our neighbor. Social media is not all bad…I enjoy using it too (all be it sparingly) has allowed us to keep in touch with those that we are geographically separated from but it also has handicapped our relationships we are not geographically separated from. Think about it this way what is the point in asking that Facebook “friend” at church how their week has been if you already know. They may need someone to take the time to ask because they would never put in writing how their week really went for the world to see but the question never comes because it is already known or at least assumed. It also can lead us into a state of envy and discontent. If we are always concentrating on what everyone else has and dreaming of another life it plants that seed. (again speaking from experience)

Whereas social media is not all bad there is one cheapening of relationships that is. Intimate relationships are being replaced by their cheapened counterparts. Anyone in a real intimate, caring and loving relationship knows how hard it is. It takes work and vulnerability. So many are making the decision to forgo the difficulty and chose instead the “instant gratification” of pornography. Pornography has been there for years but with the technological revolution it has gotten so much easier to get…and secretly. No more is there a person checking the ID’s at the smut store it is an automated “I Agree I’m 18” button. Sadly more and more children are seeing porn even before they understand what it is. I am sad to say I was one of those children. I was 11 when I found the “stash” of dad’s dirty magazines. That would have been in 1993 today the average age is 8….8 years old. **

Porn is a drug with the same addictive properties (once again I speak from experience). It is a synthetic method to release chemicals like dopamine into our body and with the more that is released this way the more addictive it becomes. And like drug users it takes more and more to keep getting high. This often leads the person to change their behaviors and they begin seeking increasing more hardcore and taboo fixes. This spreads out into society and the addict stops seeing the women and men around them as humans and only sees them as pathways to pleasure. Pornography has the ability to destroy a marriage with its effects. ***

All of these things..from one extreme to another…have a similar theme and cause. They all stem from the disconnect from the value of the item…relationship…etc. The second we allow ourselves to see something or someone for less than what they are worth we begin to loose stewardship of that person, place, or thing. Sadly by the time we realize the importance and true worth it is often too late. Cue the Passenger music.

So what to do??? How to change??? I hate to say I haven’t figured that all out yet. I can tell you it requires a reboot. A reboot of thought. A reboot of the heart. I started with prayer honest vulnerable conversations with my wife and priest. I walked away from social media and really the internet (as much as an IT professional can) for a while, and when I feel that pull to look at my Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest I walk away for a while again. The smartphone makes that harder but I found the trick is to uninstall the apps and not take it to the bathroom…but make sure you carry a good book or you’ll be reading the shampoo bottle. I will tell you though all jokes aside it isn’t easy and the only way to change is through Gods grace. Trust me I’ve tried doing it on my own only to be left angry and frustrated. It boils down to where we direct our energies…as the old Cherokee story says:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

“One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”


One final note to anyone struggling with pornography addiction there are places and people to help. A good start is Fight The New Drug or XXX Church. It isn’t easy but it is worth it.





Of Debt and Finances

In the interest of full disclosure and honesty I want to begin this post by saying that finances and debt is an area where I struggle and am not completely faithful in the Lords teaching. I however feel like this needs to be addressed.

Most of us have the same issues with debt and finances and we need someone to look up to as an example and who would be better to fill this role than the church but sadly the Church in most part has adopted the worlds Post Modern ideals on debt and money.

In the past few years I have attended 2 separate churches that are indicative of the modern American Church. Both have a large congregation and with that blessing have specific needs that used to be unique but is becoming more prevalent. One of the churches is non-denominational and the other is Baptist and is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. Both of these churches needed to expand their facilities and that cost money to happen. In both cases the church leaders decided to have the building built now with a loan and pay later; worring about the payments later. This caused them to incur Millions of dollars in debt (approx. $6 Million with one and $3 Million with the other) that needed to be paid back. That (using a mortgage calculator) puts monthly payments around $20,000 to $38,000 for 30 years.

In both cases as soon as the building was built a capital campaign was launched to pay off the debt. Sermons turned to honoring God and following His will and being good stewards of what we have. Let me be clear in saying that what was said in these sermons is true and we do need to follow Gods will and be good stewards and part of this is tithing and managing our money in a God honoring way. The issue I have seen both of these times is the failure of the church to follow their own sermons related to money.

The church needs to model how to be wise with money and how to be good stewards. In both cases the churches hired a commercial building company and commercial contractors to come in and design, build, and furnish the facility. While this in its self is not a bad thing they both could have been better stewards of the congregation that has been given and asked for those experienced with building to pick up and volunteer in some areas so that there would be less cost. They could have asked if anyone could donate materials or supplies to assist in keeping costs down. These are just a few ways that the churches could have shown stewardship to the congregation.

Another issue is the act of getting into the debt its self. The Bible does not say that it is a sin to borrow or have debt but it does advise against it. Proverbs 22: 7 states The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender (NKJV).How true this is; by the church borrowing this money they have made themselves a slave to the loan holder. This has the potential for serious consequences. What happens if the loan defaults then the church building is taken away then what or when money gets tight to we take away from our orphaned and widow funds. This is a dangerous slope to walk on for a church. Instead they could have stated the need to the congregation and asked fo donations of money, time, or resources… again going back to stewardship. Instead they decided to follow the Post Modern American worldly ideals of instant gratification and got a loan.

Now that the building has ceased and the congregation is seated in their new location giving dropped off at both places. This inevidebly is due in part to the economy but now there is a struggle to pay this debt and capital campaigns are launched and sermons that, intentionall or not, allude to if you don’t give to the building then you are not following Gods laws when the fact is we are called to give 10% of our income but that is for the orphans, widows, down trodden, homeless, and other needy persons not to fullfil a debt. This debt causes the church to spendd tithes on debt and not those that need it. One of these churches has only 1% of its budget to missions and assistance…..1%….. if we are called as individuals to give 10% don’t you think the church shoud give at least that! The fact is they can’t because they are $6 Million dollars in debt and are enslaved to it just as the Bible warns.

I am not saying that these buildings are not needed, I am not saying that debt is a sin, what I am saying is that the church and all Christians need to be careful with debt and need to look for ways to be better stewards of their existing resources. If we do this we will be looked upon in a positive light by society and will be an amazing witness to those who are unbelievers. The more we are faithful with the small things the more we will be faithful in the big. In this modern day America where the average household carries some $8000 in credit card debt (Source) the Church needs to set the right example not follow the world.