Faith Life Skills Self-Management

Stewarding our Time, Talents, and Treasures

My wife and I have been reading the Lord of the Rings aloud to each other in the evenings. At one point in the Return of the King the author, J.R.R. Tolkien, describes a beautiful picture of a steward. Two of the characters, Gandalf and Pippin, had just entered the throne room in the Kingdom of Gondor. The room had a towering ceiling with intricately carved scenes set in the walls and roof. There were massive pillars supporting the ceiling, as well as life-like statues of the kings of old. The centerpiece of the room was the throne itself, elaborately wrought, sitting on a raised dais. However, the throne was empty because the king was absent. Ruling in his stead was the steward who sat on a plain black chair on the bottom step of the dais. He was ruling the kingdom in the king’s absence, but the kingdom was not his. The steward was merely the caretaker for the king.

In the same way, we are stewards of the resources God has given us: our time, talents, and treasures. Even though these are ultimately the Lord’s, not ours, the Lord has still trusted us to make decisions about how we care for these resources. So, how do we do this? How do we use that which is not our own? I think Jesus’ parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 has principles that can help us. I encourage you to read the full parable, but here is the cliff notes version. In the parable, a master goes on a journey. Before he leaves, he entrusts part of his wealth to each of his three servants. While the master is gone, the first two servants take their master’s wealth and double the portion entrusted to them. The third servant buries his portion in the ground. Upon returning the master praises and rewards the first two servants for their stewardship of his wealth. However, the master rebukes the third servant by calling him a “wicked, lazy servant”. This servant received no reward.

This passage teaches us a lesson about how we use our time, our talents, and our treasures.

Time

First, how we use our time. This passage deals with the here and now (a.k.a. the short-term), as well as the very long-term. Verses 16 and 17 say that when the first two servants received portions of their master’s wealth, they at once went and put his money to work. They did not wait, they did not tarry, they did not waste time. In the short-term, they started immediately. Then verse 19 speaks to the long-term. It says, “after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them”. In the long-term, these servants stayed focused and finished the job they started. They did not burn out or quite early. The passage states that each of the first two servants double the money entrusted to them.

Talents

As we just discussed, each of the first two servants took action immediately to increase their master’s wealth. However, we must pair their immediate action with verse 15, which says ‘To one (servant) he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability.” ‘Each according to his ability’ is key. They were not entrusted with more than they would be able to handle. These servants had clearly spent time training and learning prior to this assignment. So, when they were given an opportunity, they knew what actions to take. They did not act willy-nilly. They knew what they were doing.

Treasures

The last lesson I want to pull from Matthew 25 about stewardship is a lesson about our treasure. I am defining treasure as those things the Lord has entrusted to us. This could include our money, house, cars, etc. There is a wrong lesson to learn and a right lesson to learn from this passage about stewarding our treasure. The wrong lesson to learn is to sink all of your money in risky ventures that you do not understand. The right lesson to learn is this: use the treasure entrusted to you to leave things better than you found them. Both of the first two servants doubled their master’s wealth that had been entrusted to them. They took what they had been given and made it better.

Summary

Here are a few practical ways to be we can be stewards of that which God has entrusted to us:

  1. First, use your time to grow. Use it to be learning and growing your talents so you will be ready to seize opportunities when they arise. This process of preparation can be long, painstaking work. But as the saying goes, “it takes ten years to be an overnight success”.
  2. The best way I know to prepare for opportunities and grow as a man of faith is find a mentor, coach, or advisor. Someone you trust to speak into your life. The greatest growth I have experienced has allows been when I had a mentor or coach guiding my growth.
  3. Be wise in how you manage your treasures. A great way to do this is to save money in an emergency fund, as well as save for retirement. Balance your desire to live for today, with your need save for tomorrow.

To end: a wise steward must be preparing to take action when the opportunities present themselves so they can leave things better than they found them. If you have read the Lord of the Rings, you know that the steward’s of Gondor had to wait many generations before the king returned to rule once again. They had to stay the course through many thankless, hopeless years. In the same way, being a steward of what God has entrusted to us can seem like long, difficult, fruitless work. So I will leave you with an encouragement. This is the reward we are seeking as Christians: Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

Jonathan Harner

Jonathan Harner is a Certified Financial Planner working for Wichita Wealth Management. As a warrior himself, Jonathan’s passion is giving order to chaos and bringing peace to fear in the financial lives of the those he works with.

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