Development & Faithful Activities: Financial Stewardship

I was at a gathering of seminary leaders last month and very often the conversation turns to the lack of resources instead of recognizing God’s abundance. This is a recurring theme. As I was preparing to write this post I found what I wrote a few years ago:

The other day I was in an online forum for seminary leaders hosted by the In Trust Center for Theological Schools. During that conversation someone made the great point that while so much course work at seminaries explore God’s creativity and abundance, our operational models and activities often are built upon the assumption that there is a scarcity of resources. We make decisions as if money is scarce or that we are in competition for students (read this for a challenge to that assumption). – click here to read the full post from November 2020

Perhaps it’s easiest to demonstrate what is NOT a faithful activity. I was speaking with someone the other day who graduated from a seminary in the last decade. This person was recounting how during the first week of classes the President approached them to ask for a major gift (over $25,000 for this person) to help “keep the lights on and pay bills” at the school. When a student arrives at a school, the school is responsible for stewarding the discipleship journey of the student; while there are always unique circumstances the reason that this student was recounting the story was to illustrate how not to treat a student in the first week at a new school! Applying pressure to a new student to give financial resources at such a significant level does not fit this understanding of “faithful activity.”

A “faithful activity” is when we honor God by showing care and love to those who he has created. Does that mean that there will be times to ask someone for financial support? Absolutely! But that comes within the context of a trusting relationship and not out of desperation for money.

When we begin with the priorities we laid out in the previous series on stewardship, we are reminded that

  • 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

Any activity that honors God by reinforcing these priorities can be considered a “faithful activity.”

Next week we’ll look at some additional practical items that help distinguish those who are prioritizing faithfulness to God’s mission.

– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President, Winebrenner Theological Seminary