When you say the word stewardship, many people think immediately of money. Stewardship is not money. Stewardship is looking after, managing with accountability, and being a good steward of all that God has entrusted to us. That includes our health, our time, our talents, our financial resources, our bodies, our environment, etc.
It is important for us to be good stewards of all of these. Let me focus just on our money. I wish our government offered us better leadership in how to handle our money as a good steward.
It was recently reported that our Department of Defense spent nearly $43 million of taxpayers’ money building a single gas station in Afghanistan. Some experts have suggested that is about 140 times more than it should have cost. While there are a lot of extra security costs, that looks to be a poor job of taking care of our money.
The Social Security Administration has been under a lot of discussion in recent months. This government agency needs to do a better job of taking care of our veterans. It also could do a better job of how it spends its money.
It was recently reported that the Social Security Administration spent three times more money than it collected while trying to recover accidental overpayments.
A report of the Inspector General found that between 2008 and 2013 the SSA spent $323 million in an effort to recoup $128 million in overpayments. They actually recovered only $109 million. I am not very good at math but that is over a $200 million deficit!
The first thing to do is to stop making overpayments. The second thing is determine whether it is worth spending three times as much trying to collect those overpayments. Good fiscal stewardship could be practiced.
It is easy to criticize the government and the way it handles money. We all need to do a better job of being good stewards of what is entrusted to us in our businesses, churches and non-profits. For that reason the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries elected to join ECFA – Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. This is one of the most stringent financial accountability systems available. It was started by Billy Graham years ago.
When I was pastor at Frazer and some non-profit group came asking for money, our first question was whether they were a member of ECFA. If they were not a member, we were very reluctant to proceed with the request because of the accountability issue. If they were members of ECFA, that was the first and biggest hurdle for that ministry to receive financial support. It helps to be accountable.
We all need to be more accountable in the way we handle our finances individually. There are a lot of excellent programs available. Years ago one of the pioneers looking at the Biblical way to handle finances was Larry Burkett. We used his literature and tried to follow his guidelines as a church. Through his leadership we became debt free as a church. Some good teachers on financial accountability are Ron Blue and Dave Ramsey.
Stewardship is about life. It is about managing Biblically everything that God has given us. Read Matthew 21:33-46.