Thanks for joining me for Week 2 of the Stewardship Series. This installment will focus on how to start towards better stewardship. We have to start somewhere. Let’s do this.
Please remember that I speak to you in the spirit of Paul when he said:
I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself.
-Philippians 3:12 (GNT)
Most assuredly, I am NOT perfect, but I am making progress. Lysa TerKeurst refers to this as “imperfect progress” in her book, Unglued. I hope you’ll accept this as enough qualification to talk about pursuing better stewardship in all areas of life.
This week, our stewardship talk will turn to practical ways to baby-step towards progress in the midst of our everyday lives. Use them as a way to start somewhere. These suggestions cost nothing but a little time and effort, but will yield results.
This post is a bit longer than usual, but it will provide a practical framework for you to use as you reflect on how to start and move forward. Sometimes our action is hampered by the sheer volume of what we have to do. This should help.
REASONS WE STRUGGLE
In reflecting on why stewardship is so difficult at times, I have determined that there are two key reasons:
- Being overwhelmed
- Being careless/lazy
When I think about the areas of my life that need improvement, I realize that some of my shortcomings are related to being overwhelmed, while others are related to being careless or lazy.
For example, sometimes things get out of hand in the house (laundry piles up, clutter abounds) because I am too busy (overwhelmed).
If I become a better steward of my time, then I have more of it to stay on top of what needs to be done instead of waiting until things approach a seemingly insurmountable level.
I’ll be doing a whole post on time in the coming weeks. Lord help us!
At other times, I may have time, but choose to walk upstairs empty-handed or ignore the mess around me because I just don’t feel like dealing with it. I can be careless and lazy. This reminds me of a scripture:
But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.
Like me, I’m sure you aren’t keen on the idea of your house falling into “ruin”, whether it be literally or metaphorically. So let’s start.
STRATEGIES FOR NOW
I have been listening to an amazing podcast by Emily P. Freeman called “The Next Right Thing” for several months now. I particularly felt enriched by Episode 36: “Stay in Today”. For someone who overcomplicates things, this episode is a great place to start.
After listening to this podcast, I have reflected on a 4 step strategy:
PRAY – Be still before God. Ask him to show you in what areas you need to reflect on your stewardship and make plans to improve. You may already have some ideas about these areas, but God is able to clarify and help you to tackle them.
PRIORITIZE – After praying and considering what you need to work on, remember Emily Freeman’s advice: “I can’t do it all, but I can do one thing. And then I can do one more thing after that. What about you? What is something on your mind? Turn it into a question and add today.” (The Next Right Thing Podcast Episode 36)
She encourages the listener to address what can be done TODAY as a way to avoid overwhelm. In the week since I heard this podcast, I have already begun to reframe things in my mind by asking myself what I can do today.
What can wait? What needs attention, but isn’t urgent? Prioritizing will help you with your stewardship.
Write down the things you want to address. List them by TODAY, SOON, and LATER. Then you can move to the next step.
PLAN – After you have prioritized and done whatever can be accomplished today, do some soul-searching with your calendar. I write in pencil, because Life Happens.
What can you plan for?
Clean the garage on Saturday?
Pay your bills on a rainy Tuesday evening?
Take the donations to Goodwill on the way home from work on Friday?
Make a plan and chip away at the task of today on your list.
PRACTICE – This last step is after you have prayed, prioritized, and planned. It’s time for regular practices that will help you achieve better stewardship.
For our family, an attempt at “15 MInutes of Stewardship” a day is the current trend. Beyond the daily doing of the dishes and taking out of the trash, we take on a project meant to consume 15 minutes.
We aren’t perfect and we sometimes skip a day, but as long as there is progress, we are moving towards better stewardship.
This means you may leave your task unfinished, but you’ll have made progress. It’s totally okay to leave something unfinished. Really!
If you find you have more time or are on a roll, do another 15 minutes. Work in 15 minute increments until you need to stop or feel good about what you’ve gotten accomplished.
This is infinitely more effective than looking at a disastrous home or wildly out of balance bank account and devoting many stressful hours to it. You’ll probably get frustrated and are unlikely to finish well.
Come up with your own method of structured stewardship time that works for your family. If you practice small increments of stewardship, you’ll be chipping away at the whole and eventually see real progress.
SLOW AND STEADY
Don’t try to tackle all 4 steps in a day, or even a week. Start now, do what you can today, and tomorrow, consider what’s next.
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
-Matthew 6:34 (NASB)
Next week we will focus on stewardship of time, which I admittedly am not the best with. However, I am better than I was a year ago. That’s a start.
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