The Steward and Thanksgiving
A client recently asked me after I gave a rather compelling biblical argument for the ministry of development, (OK, I thought it was compelling), "How do we apply this biblical knowledge to our donors without preaching or using guilt?"
A fair and important question.
We cannot use the Bible's directives as a weapon. To manipulate a donor by Scripture is not how God intends that we build the steward and guide them to a closer walk with Christ.
But we can use teachings, parables, and other circumstances to bring the steward to an awareness of how generosity is a part of their discipleship as a Christian.
Thanksgiving is a perfect example. The fall, and especially Thanksgiving, is a key time of generosity in western culture. Some of my clients receive 40-50% of their annual gifts during this season. But why is that? Is it just a cultural phenomenon? Is it because we do more "fundraising" during this time of year?
Let's take a closer look at how the steward might consider generosity at Thanksgiving.
- Thanksgiving to God is a natural response to, and a part of, our relationship with our Creator. There are many reasons to be thankful. God has given us his Son. God has given us life. God has given us what we need to live. Giving to our church and ministries can be seen as a natural response to our generous God.
- The steward is humbled at this time of the year by realizing how blessed he/she is, even during difficult days. In the 2nd Corinthians chapter 8, the apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth about the church at Macedonia. They "pleaded with us" for the privilege of sharing with the saints. A steward can view Thanksgiving as their opportunity for sharing with the saints, wherever that may be.
- "There but for the grace of God go I." I am not sure where this saying originated. (If you know, please let me know as I want to give due credit.) But every steward may feel this at some time in their lives. It says to me, if it were not but for the grace of God, I could be homeless, I could be without a job, I could have a child in the hospital. This saying brings us to the reality of our dependence on God, and of our reliance on God.
- The steward can be seen as an investor, an investor on behalf of the Owner. At Thanksgiving, large investments are made in ministries. The wise investor can use this time to lead others to give. To whom must is given, much is required is a scripture that comes to mind at this time. When a wealthy steward gives, it creates a momentum for others to follow. This is a principle found in both Old and New Testaments.
Those are just a few ideas of how the Steward can make a difference at Thanksgiving. Generosity is contagious. When others see the generosity of stewards at Thanksgiving, it can lead them to give, and even keep giving to churches and ministries throughout the year.
In USA Today's annual report on generosity they had an interesting article on the giving to Haiti. Even though hundreds of millions of dollars were given to this very needy situation, it has LITTLE TO NO EFFECT on the giving to nonprofits in the U.S. It did not take away or lower giving to other needy causes.
We have plenty, and we should be thankful. This Thanksgiving, thank your stewards, encourage them to be thankful, and empower them to demonstrate their thankful hearts through generosity.