Stewardship — to serve as one who manages another’s property, finances or other affairs — is not just means for the church to raise money. It is a way of life that recognizes that everything we have is God’s, and we are simply managing those resources while here on earth.
For many United Methodists, the subject of money is touchy indeed. Jesus tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive; Luke lets us know that the measure we give is the measure we’ll get back; Paul instructs us to sow generously. But we have families to raise, mortgages to pay, children to put through college. How do we reconcile the pull of the real world with the exhortations to give that we are given in scripture? The Texas Methodist Foundation offers the following tips for doing just that:
Start with prayer. Talk with God about helping you discern how to fulfill God’s purposes with your money.
What do you value? Your church? Your local food bank? The shelter for abused children in your community? Most of us could make a long list of worthy programs; the challenge is to focus that list to the top two or three causes that really mean the most to you.
If your church is not at the top of that list, ask yourself why. Are you participating enough in the life of your church community to make it meaningful to you and your family? Are there things you would change about your church that would make it more meaningful for you, your family, and the community? If so, there’s no time like the present to get more involved. A real relationship with your church makes your decision at annual stewardship time much easier.
Look at your will. Have you given careful thought to where your money will go upon your death? If your spouse, children and other family members are taken care of, it may be time to think seriously about a sizable bequest to your church or to other important nonprofit organizations.
Consider whether it’s time to make a significant gift, one from which you can derive joy for several years. Perhaps you want to endow a scholarship at a nearby Methodist seminary; maybe you would like to become a sustaining member of your favorite charity. This type of giving allows you to participate in their fruits of your generosity—you can assist in the selection of the scholarship recipient, for example, or get involved in a much-needed program at the charity you’re supporting.