I now know why women go to the restroom in pairs: profound words. Maybe not every time, but in the mindless repetition of a continuously repeated event, casual conversation often turns intimate, and great things are spoken. One such conversation sticks like another dart in my heart (see ”Yield or Wield: Believers and Politics?”).
I don’t remember where we were or why, but I was in the ladies room with author and speaker Tami Head (God used her recently published Bible study, Duty or Delight? Knowing Where You Stand with God, www.lifeway.com, to shift my focus from performing for God to simply loving Him). At the time, her younger daughter was in the last years of high school, and her older girl had just left for her first year of college. As we chatted about this new stage of life, she uttered these insightful words: “I just want to steward this season well.”
I have pondered these words in my core. They have become a prayer for my own season. The cry of my heart for my 10-year-old, toes dangling over the precipice of adolescence, caught in the balance of being too young but too old. My 14-year-old, feet firmly planted in the teenage years, discovering a faith and convictions all her own. My 18-year-old, staring down her final teenage year, hands wrapping the reigns of her own life now. My 23-year-old, barreling toward his mid-twenties, living on his own and figuring out what holds most importance to him.
How do I simultaneously steward all their seasons well when I’m in a season of my own? A season of sanctification as the Lord strips me of self so He can clothe me in Christ. A season of being wife to a husband who runs his own company and needs tenderness, attentiveness, and restoration when he comes home beat up by the demands of his job. A season of mothering four children, all in their own seasons, balancing the tasks of home, schooling, and helping James in the business. A season of becoming an author, responding to the burden God has placed on my heart to share what He is teaching me. A season of friendship, discipling and being discipled. A season of chaos in the world, false teaching in the church. A season of much change, much threat, much uncertainty.
Stewardship is a biblical principle of responsibility and accountability by which each of us will be measured. A scale that weighs what we’ve done with what we’ve been given. The results eternally significant. Jesus taught a parable on stewardship in Matthew 15:14-30. A master traveling to a country far away gives each of three servants a certain number of talents, “each according to his own ability” (verse 15). After a long time, the master returns and settles his accounts. Two servants doubled the master’s money, while the other buried it out of fear. Each received his just reward. The same will be true for us when we stand before Jesus and give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:12).
While Jesus’ parable deals with money, its application exceeds mere monetary relevance. Our Master will settle accounts with us regarding all that He entrusts to us. In a sense, our children are talents: valuable goods with which we are assigned by The Master. We are accountable for how we steward the seasons of their lives. A bit frightening, if you ask me.
So how do we steward well in the midst of their and our seasons when there is no formula? There is only flesh and spirit. Law and Jesus. The answer one that requires giving up everything in order to receive that which matters most. Setting aside self for others. Husband. Children. We see in God’s word how it is in fact possible to do so, and to do it well.
Writing to the church in Galatia, Paul reveals how to steward our seasons well. His letter confronts a false gospel of salvation by Jesus plus works and establishes salvation through grace by faith alone. This eternal truth not only is the key to the kingdom of God, it is the formula for seasonal stewardship, the “how to” contained in Galatians 5:16-20, 24-26, and 6:1-10:
5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
5:24 Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. 6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Seasonal stewardship in ten easy steps!
1. Walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, live in the Spirit.
2. Crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.
3. Remain humble, focused on others, and thankful, no matter what.
4. Exude gentleness, remembering it could just as easily be me.
5. Bear each other’s burdens.
6. Take responsibility for my own choices and behaviors.
7. Remain in God’s truth.
8. Respond to God’s truth.
In reality, the list isn’t so easy, and the whole thing hinges on number one. In fact, two through ten are impossible without one. Once we are saved by grace through faith, the only way we will steward the seasons God gives us well is to walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, and live in the Spirit.
What does that actually mean? How do we actually do life by the Spirit? By lead and bit.
Until then, I pray God’s word penetrates deep in our hearts and understanding as the Holy Spirit prepares us to steward our seasons well as we become more wholly His today.