You do not have to have a lot of money to enter the stewardship coaching process. Stewardship is not an issue of quantity. If God wanted to feed all the people, solve all of the world’s problems, etc., He would. I do not pretend to understand the mind of God, but I know the Bible shows that what He really wants is our heart.
For each of the seven categories in Stewardship Coaching, I have listed sample first steps or “baby steps” that are not dependent upon having a lot of money. They are useful for taking that all-important “first step” towards God—even if it is a baby step. The only relevant question is: “What are the next steps I/we can and will take to journey deeper into a relationship with God here and now, in the context in which I live and work?” No step is considered too small and no step too large.
Surplus Capital – An emergency savings account can be opened at a Community Development Financing Institution (“CDFI”) type institution. CDFI is a federal government designation usually for a bank that operates in a low income area. By placing funds with such financial institutions, your money can help provide needed capital to those shut out of normal financial channels.
Negative Capital – Try to go 30 days without incurring new debt. Contentment with what the Lord has given you should grow and you will have more freedom to respond as your heart leads.
Giving – With intention, give a token amount to a person or institution whose need God has laid on your heart. You will experience joy in giving and begin breaking the hold of our material culture.
God’s Creation – Adjust your normal thermostat setting by 1°. You will begin to see the environment as the gift that it is (and you will save money!)
Consumption – Shop at a farmer’s market. Community is present more at a local market than a big superstore.
Solidarity – Ride the bus or some other similar activity that puts you in contact with a different economic class. Jesus did not come just to save people similar to you. By interacting with others outside your normal sphere, you will develop more of the love of Jesus.
Work and Sabbath – Refrain from using your smartphone for a short amount of time, even if it is for two or three hours. Speaking only for myself, I am addicted to electronic gadgets. A conscious decision to turn away from these and towards God can only make me more free.
Like the spiritual disciplines, these activities in and of themselves are not all that helpful. We have found the value in considering the relationship between each, i.e. looking at the covenants as one unit. To get a better understanding of the mind of God, it is often recommended to read the Bible “as story” as opposed to pulling out individual “proof verses”. God’s nature is better understood in the Bible’s “meta-story”. In a somewhat similar manner, we have found that we have begun to see the heart of God in the relationships among the seven covenants.
- For instance, opening a bank account at a CDFI (which one would think falls in the Surplus Capital category) is also showing a love for the poor (Solidarity), increasing margin (Negative Capital), denoting an attitude of gratitude (Generosity), and one is obviously not spending the money (Consumption).
- The refusal, at least for a short time, of incurring additional debt (which we have obviously placed in the Negative Capital category), impacts spending patterns (Consumption). Waiting on the Lord is undoubtedly preferable to attempting to fulfill needs of material possessions (Sabbath-possibly the most important category).
- Shopping at a farmer’s market (which we have placed in the Consumption category) develops a sense of community (Solidarity). Shopping locally can also be better for the environment (God’s Creation) as goods do not have to be transported over long distances.
We are convinced that a commitment to the Stewardship Coaching process and exploring the relationships contained therein, can be instrumental to one’s walk. To reiterate, the actual task itself is not of high importance. We have an ever-expanding list of resources and questions that can help you structure your finances for the unique life that God has for you. Let us know if we can help.