by Mrs. Dianne Normand
A parable is a story told by Jesus to teach us a lesson in a memorable way. The past several weeks we have been reading parables about the importance of giving. And, the past several weeks our stewardship speakers have shared about the importance of giving. To me, it seems we have heard personal parables from our speakers. They have taught us the importance of giving by sharing their story in a memorable way.
There are so many current examples of how we can be a good and faithful steward. Instead of focusing on Friday night lights on a football field, we focus on the One True Light in our worship. Instead of going to Google for help, we learn go to God for help. Instead of going to Facebook to see how our church family is doing, we go to church to see how our family is doing. Instead of relying on the promises of politicians to keep our life from falling apart, we rely on the promise of Jesus to keep our life in place. These are some things we can do every day that will help us be a living “story” or “parable” about stewardship. But without the application, they are nothing more than catchy phrases.
As I was preparing for this talk and trying to come up with more catchy phrases, I remembered something my son said after Sandy Virden’s funeral. “Ms. Sandy taught me how much I want to love Jesus.” After being in her Sunday school class for a few years, that was what he remembered: learning how much he wanted to love Jesus. That is not a catchy phrase.
I have always thought of stewardship as a discipline, but I had never thought of it as a ministry to help others want to love Jesus. Sandy didn’t have discipline to teach Sunday School, she had a ministry. When stewardship becomes a ministry, it gives meaning to everything we do. When our giving is about Christ our life is about him, but when our giving is about us, our life is about tasks. For Sandy, teaching was never a task, it was always about Christ. This kind of giving helps others, but it also turns our minds from how we want things to turn out, to how Jesus promises things will turn out.
Sometimes we have to ask ourselves some hard questions regarding our stewardship. Does our giving make people want to look at us, or look at God? Does our giving let others know they are able, or does it enable? Does our giving allow others the opportunity to be responsible and give more, or does it make others want let you keep doing it all? Do we believe enough in others to step aside so that someone else can step forward? Will you step forward when asked, or will move back because of uncertainty? Does our giving fill us with fear because we try to understand ourselves, or does it fill us with faith because we try to understand God? The answer to these questions may help you decide your ministry and your ministry may just end up being a parable, a way to teach giving in a memorable way.
You may never know how important this could be, but it could affect more people than you can ever imagine. Your ministry of being a responsible steward will be not only a reflection of your character, but it will also be a reflection of God’s character shining through you. What will you do today, to make your stewardship a ministry that makes people want to love Jesus?
St Mark’s has worked very hard to communicate the need to give. We have received letters, we have heard people talk about stewardship, we have opportunities to get involved, we have been urged to pray, we have been asked to fill out a pledge card. But sometimes it may seem that St. Mark’s is asking a lot.
Please know that St. Mark’s is not about programs, it’s about people. St. Mark’s is not just about the change in the offering plate, it’s about change in our heart. St. Mark’s is not about building committees, it’s about building a Christian community.
Please pray that we will be willing to place ourselves, our fear, our pride, our loved ones, our time, our possessions, our money, and our plans fully in His Hands. God does not call those who are prepared, God prepares those who He calls. You have been called to give to your ministry. And you are prepared.
photo credit: Aaron Burden Photography via Unsplash