Stewards vs. Owners

“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”—Proverbs 11:24–25 (NIV)

Have you ever been asked to watch something that belonged to someone else? Maybe a friend or relative has asked you to babysit their child or take care of their pet. Maybe you’ve been asked to housesit or drive someone’s car from one place to another.

When someone trusts us with something that’s important to them, they expect that we’ll give special attention to its safe-keeping. And we try our hardest to do that. But with our own personal belongings, we often have a little more leeway. If our car gets a scratch on it, or our leather wallet gets a little discolored, or our shoes get scuff marks, it doesn’t seem to bother us nearly as much. We will probably just keep using the item with no problem. In fact, on any given day you’ll see someone using a phone with a cracked screen or driving a car with a dent in it.

When it’s someone else’s special item, though, we’re much more careful. Why? Because if something bad happens, we’ll feel terrible. We might have to pay for repairs or buy them a replacement.

In the same way, if your daughter or son falls in the park and scrapes their knee, it’s probably not a huge deal. But no one wants to deliver the news to another parent that her kid broke his ankle on your watch.

This is the difference between being an owner and a steward. A steward is one who is entrusted to watch over and care for something. Stewards don’t own the item, but they are accountable to the owner for its safekeeping.

Have you ever considered that everything we have belongs to God? He’s entrusted us with these things, and He is saying to us, “Don’t take care of those things as if they were yours; take care of them as if they were Mine.”

Now, when something of value is entrusted to you, it comes with a real sense of expectation. The expectation is that the item of value will be well cared for and well kept, and that it will be returned to the owner in the same condition . . . or better!

We are not owners, we are stewards. It’s all God’s. When we shift our mindset from owner to steward, it becomes a lot easier to be obedient to the Lord in the area of generosity. Why? Because it’s not your resource, it’s His resource. It’s not your money, it’s His money. It’s not your talent or ability, it’s His talent and ability. And as owner, God can use it however He wants. And as stewards, we’ll answer to Him regarding the manner in which we handled that which was entrusted to us.

If we don’t honor the Owner’s instructions for His talents and treasures, we won’t experience the rewards He promises. We won’t reap the benefits, and we won’t have the kind of vibrant, growing, transformational relationship with Christ we were created for and redeemed for. And what we’ve been entrusted with may even be taken from us if we aren’t responsible and effective with it (Matthew 25:28).

Consider this: If your boss gives you his debit card and a list of items to purchase, do you go and buy whatever you want because the card is now yours? No! You’d be fired. Well, this is something you can take to the bank: God is the boss, and the things He entrusts to us—our relationships, time, talents, and treasures—are His debit card. And the Bible is very clear about how God wants us to use them.

Over the next few days, we’ll look at practical ways we can be good stewards. More importantly, we’ll look at the infinite potential and endless possibilities God has put before us to glorify Him—the rightful owner—with these gifts, talents, and earthly resources.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.