One of the best strategies I know to maximize life is to live with the end in mind. It may not be natural to do, and it may seem a little morbid, but imagining the end of your life is a powerful motivator for today. So let’s do an exercise together. Imagine yourself at ninety years old. You have lived a long and satisfying life. You are content with what you gained and what you gave. You are fulfilled. What did your life look like? What did you do with the time and resources that you were given? Imagining your desired outcome and then working backwards is an effective way to gain clarity on what to do today. What do you want to achieve? What could a path to that outcome look like? Who do you want to become? How would a person like that live today?
Life is less about what you have and more about what you do with what you have. We all have limited time and resources. Everyone gets the same number of hours in a day, but not everyone gets the same amount out of each hour. I believe the simple question that distills the concept of stewardship is this: What did you do with what you had? As a Christian, I don’t just seek to maximize my days for my own benefit or enjoyment, I view the stewardship of my resources as service to my Creator. Everything I have I received from God, therefore everything I do with what I have is a response to his goodness in my life. I could never live up to his Grace, but the most I can offer is the least I can do.
Here are two simple steps to stewardship. In order to steward it, you have to...
1. Recognize It
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin...” Zechariah 4:10 NLT
As humans, we tend to overvalue what we lack and undervalue what we have. This is a grave mistake. All we have is all we have, so the best thing we can do is gratefully accept what we have been given and put everything we have received to work. You can’t steward what you can’t see. We are rarely impressed with our own gifts and talents; it is the gifts and talents of others that inspire us. This is healthy to a degree. We should be inspired by the gifts we see in others, but we should not allow that inspiration to dilute our appreciation of the gifts we see in ourselves.
If you have been undervaluing the thing in your hand, change your perspective. What you have is big! Often we view our resources as small simply because we possess them. It is the things we don’t possess that we covet. The thing you have may not be big in quantity or by comparison, but it is big in significance. Every big thing started small. Every small thing has potential to grow big. Before you can steward what you have, you have to recognize it. We are really into endings. God rejoices even in the beginning. So don’t despise what starts small.
2. Reproduce It
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” Matthew 25:29 NLT
When we underestimate what we have, we either maintain it or neglect it. Neither leads to growth. And growth is what God is after. He isn’t measuring our faithfulness against the outcomes of others; he is measuring our product against our potential. And only he knows all that is possible through us. God isn’t into management or maintenance, he’s into multiplication. He is into faithfulness and fruitfulness. That’s what stewardship is truly about. It starts with recognition, then recognition gives way to reproduction. God is not satisfied to settle for stagnation. His desire for you is that you would continue to grow, expand, and improve.
Don’t complain about what you have or what you lack, multiply the little until it becomes a lot! If you have been asking yourself, When will I get more?, I suggest you switch to asking, What am I doing with what I have now? One question is passive; the other is active. You can’t do a thing about receiving more. But you can control producing more. Stop lying to yourself. The grass isn’t greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it. God doesn’t provide the harvest, he provides the seed. You’re the one who has to sow. You’re the one who has to put in the work. Whatever you neglect will wither. Whatever you nurture will grow. The choice is yours. You have what you need! Now get to work.