The past few weeks we’ve been exploring what is often referred to as the “Parable of the Talents.” This story told by Jesus exists in two versions within the New Testament – Matthew 25:14-30 & Luke 19:11-27. Before sharing some concluding thoughts about this story, here is a summary of what we’ve explored so far (you can access by clicking here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three):
- God is creator of all things
- What we have is ours to manage, but ultimately owned by God
- The kingdom resources we will receive in the future are directly tied to how we manage what we have today
- Stewardship is about managing what we have and not about looking at what we don’t have
Over the past two weeks ago I have been traveling and was able to serve on the staff for a week of Senior High camp at Camp Sonrise Mountain and attend the biennial conference of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in Pittsburgh, PA (this is part of the reason that the most recent InDepth posts have been shorter!). While living in a cabin with a group of teenagers may sound like the complete opposite of sitting in meetings with seminary Presidents, Academic Deans, and other leaders, the truth is that the core of each seeks to answer the same question – how can we create a culture of discipleship that develops fully devoted followers of Jesus? This question is at the center of youth ministry, the work of seminaries, and the key to our discussions about stewardship.
At the ATS meeting last week there were many echoes of my own conversations with Dr. Gary Hoag, someone who has dedicated his life to growing in spiritual maturity as it relates to stewardship. Of the many things that Gary has shared related to this InDepth series, the one I want to share today is his phrase “faithful activities.”
When we fully believe that everything belongs to God, then we are simply called to be faithful with our resources (you can read about some of the key activities of Winebrenner by clicking here). Many organizations and industries refer to the “best practices” that should be followed; however, conversations about “best practices” often neglect the uniqueness of individual organizations. A “faithful activity” places the emphasis upon our individual and organizational actions and leaves the results in God’s hands. Like the servants in the Parable of the Talents, our focus should be placed upon those things we can control. Too often we attempt to evaluate the results instead of the activities. Our measurements and evaluations should focus on what we can control – activities, not results.
When we align our homes, lives, and organizations with the message of Matthew 25 and Luke 19 we will focus upon these “faithful activities” that demonstrate trust in God’s provision. That is what we’ll experience in the kingdom of heaven.
– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President, Winebrenner Theological Seminary