Stewardship Tools for God’s Sharecroppers

At the October meeting of the Cabarrus Master Gardeners, we heard from a wise and local farmer, Ben Street, who gave a talk entitled, “Ten Tools for the Market Garden.”  He started his talk with words that really stuck in my mind: “The two most precious resources to the farmer are time and money.  Money comes and goes, but time you never get back.”  Time is indeed our most precious resource; we never get any more of it.    The challenge of living in the current age is how do we overcome all the distractions in our lives in order to hear Jesus calling our name?  What tools do we have to be better disciples?

A tool I use in my morning quiet time is Forward Day by Day, published by Forward Movement.  Each day there is a brief scripture verse followed by a short reflection from the author of the month.  The daily scripture readings are listed if you want to spend more time in the Bible.  The two prayers on the front and back cover of this pocket-sized pamphlets are priceless.  The entire process takes only a few minutes, leaving you time to just be still and rest in the Lord.  If you don’t have time or you’re going out of town, just bring the pamphlet with you as a tool to “seek and serve Jesus in unexpected places.”  There are free copies of Forward Day by Day in the Welcome Center.  Take one home and try it out.  

Another tool I use is my gratitude journal.  Each day I write three new things for which I am grateful.  It is a wonderful exercise and it reminds me of how truly blessed I am by God.  It is also a way to train your brain to be on the lookout for the positive things in your life so that you can include them in your journal.  I find the process healing and re-reading my previous journal entries lets me enjoy the experiences again and again.  

In addition to how we spend our time, how we deal with our treasure, the stuff we own, is core to our stewardship.  The parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mathew 21: 34-37) has a message that The Reverend Barbara Brown Taylor unwraps so elegantly in her book Gospel Medicine.  In a sermon entitled, “God’s Sharecroppers,” she writes, “Jesus reminded them that ownership was a game they were playing, that they were guests on the earth, not rulers. . . . He reminded them that being guests placed them in relationship with a host who placed them in relationship with each other, and that once they got over their delusions of ownership those relationships could be based on gratitude, not competition so that everything necessary for life could be shared and there would no longer be too little for some because some others had too much.”    She concludes the sermon with these words, “We are God’s sharecroppers.  We tend the earth and its riches on someone else’s behalf.  We are expected to represent God’s interests, being as generous with each other as God is with us.  We are not owners.  We were never meant to be.  It is not the American way, but it is the kingdom way, and I will tell you something:  the harvest will take your breath away.”

-Mark Robinson