I have two adult children. Right from the moment they were born I realised that I had to be careful in the way I thought about them. They are not my children, they are a gift from God.
God has given me stewardship over them for as long as I live. They are a beautiful and treasured gift, but I try and make sure I hold them lightly.
This reframing has been helpful as the kids have grown. When my daughter contracted leukaemia when she was six, I didn’t see it as God trying to take her away from me; but I accepted the possibility he might be asking me to entrust her back to his care.
When my son went through a time of rebellion, I had to acknowledge that I couldn’t make him believe, because he wasn’t mine. However, I could continue to love and care for him, and model relationship with God, and pray.
My recognition that I am a steward of my children is the same attitude that I bring to my work, and it is a biblical premise. In Genesis 1:26 God gave humanity work to do, to be stewards over his creation. In Genesis 2:15 he tells Adam to work the earth and keep the garden.
Work is a gift because we have an opportunity to be steward over whatever responsibility God has given us: to love that work, do the best we can with it and offer it back to God as a form of worship.
Not only does God give us work to do, he also gives us what we need to do it well. We read in Genesis 2:8 that God planted a garden and placed humans in it. Further on we read that God provided everything humans needed to work and live. The garden is the source of food, and in verses 10–12 we read that there are rivers and a variety of resources: ore, including gold, and resins for building and construction, and onyx stone, a precious stone possibly used for trade.
God also gives us the gifts and skills we need to do the work. In the Old Testament we see this in the famous story of Bezalel in Exodus 31 who is given gifts of wisdom and creativity and skill.
Think it through
Do you see yourself as a steward of the work that God has given you to do? How does this reframe the way you see your work?
How has God prepared you for your working (provision, gifts, relationships)?
What does the Bible say?
The key stewardship verses are Genesis 1:27–28, often known as the creation or cultural mandate:
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’
Our role is to take the materials of the earth and use them to fill out the creation. We have a responsibility to look after and care for all that we see. Our working is the most significant way we fulfil this command from God.
Thank you for this amazing responsibility you have given us to look after and take care of all the aspects of creation that are before us.
Help us to be worthy stewards of the relationships you have given us; our houses and possessions; the financial resources you have entrusted to us.
Help us also to use our working to creatively care for and sustain creation in a way that serves you and expresses love toward others.
If we have opportunity in our working, help us to use our imaginations to be creative in filling creation with good things and services.
Guide us, we pray,