My seven year-old daughter’s face was a mash-up of horror and sorrow.
Her body tensed with anger and she shrieked like a siren, “But… it’s miiiiiiiine!” I had picked up a pencil on the table and handed it to her brother. We were doing homework and he needed a pencil. There was one on the table. Only it was Emerson’s. At least that’s what she thought.
Her high-pitched rage triggered something in me. The sound and the face were terrible, but I recognized it all. I feel the same way more times than I want to admit.
Something happens that’s different than my plan. Something I’ve worked for gets taken away. I share or I flex my plans, because I’m a grown up, and compassionate, and a pastor. But my heart screams that same shrieking protest.
Not getting your way is painful. We all want control. Children wish they had it and imagine that adults can do whatever they want. Most adults know the sad truth. Very little of life is ever in our control.
Are you screaming for control?
Yet we aspire to live like CEOs. We’ve even been counseled at times to act like the CEO of ourselves. Set the agenda. Design your life. I’ve spent the better part of my life trying to live this way. But this perspective brings it’s own problems.
- If you’re the CEO of your life, it’s easy to feel entitled. You’ve worked hard for what you have. You should get to decide how things go! When things don’t go your way, it’s brutally painful.
- If you’re the CEO of your life, you’ve got nowhere to go when you don’t know the answers. It’s up to you. You’re alone. You’ve got to save yourself.
This is not how you were designed to live. Trying to control every aspect of your world is a draining and stressful exercise in futility. You are not really the CEO of your life. But this isn’t news. For something like 4000 years the Bible has been saying that there is a God and you’re not it. Jesus had the power to control the storms of life, but his disciples didn’t. Neither do you.
Instead of calling you to be the CEO of your life, the Bible invites you to take the position of steward.
Isn’t it time you retired?
In ancient times the steward was a servant in a wealthy family. This servant had the responsibility of managing the household. They oversaw the budget, managed the other servants and made sure the house ran smoothly.
This was a position of responsibility that required initiative and care. It’s a lot like a CEO, with one important difference. The CEO is doing his own will, in pursuit of what will benefit him. The Steward is following the agenda of their master. They are entrusted with resources that they can use, but not for their own ends.
This is how the Bible portrays our relationship with our life and our stuff. Scripture declares unapologetically that the earth and everything in it belongs to God. (Ps.24:1-2) We aren’t the owner or the CEO. We are stewards. What we have has been lent to us for a purpose. (See 1 Cor. 4:2)
When Emerson screamed about Lucas using her pencil she was conveniently forgetting that I gave her the pencil to begin with. You may have worked hard to earn your position or your financial resources or your skills. Except that God provided you the opportunities and the personality and the ability to learn. You may have plans for how your life will go, but it is God who will give you the days ahead (or not.)
The Freedom of Stewardship
It may sound like a demotion at first. And yet you’ll find you have enormous freedom.
Everything you have has been entrusted to you. It’s for your use, but not for your agenda. You can live your life like Emerson with the pencil, shrieking in pain when your plans are blocked and you don’t get your way. But you don’t have to. If you shift your attitude and see yourself as a steward, you will find a new outlook.
- You’ll find a sense of direction for how to use your money, time and skill. Instead of working to accumulate, you’ll be able to work to make a difference.
- You’ll find a deeper sense of peace when difficult things happen. Either the Master will provide the resources to make it through, or the Master will help you make it through with what you have, or the Master will use the trouble to shape you. All of these are fine.
- You’ll find that you can be less controlling and more flexible. God is up to something in your life. When your plans don’t go your way, you can stop and look for God’s fingerprints. Maybe there’s a detour that’s better than the route you had planned.
This is one of the attitudes that will propel you forward in personal and spiritual growth. Let go of the illusion of control. Don’t give up personal responsibility, just the myth that you can run the show. Instead approach your life with the heart of a steward.
Take the Next Step:
1. Take Action:
Journal Exercise: Where does your own sense of ownership and entitlement burn strongest? What would it be like if you could consider this area (or resource, or relationship) to be on loan to you from God for the purpose of furthering God’s goals in your life? How would this change your choices?
Practice: To help lock in this new attitude, take something that you have and give it away to someone who needs it more. Don’t explain yourself. Just bless them with it. Reflect on how your heart feels before and after. (If you do this would you let me know how it goes?)
2. Tweet or Share:
- Trying to control every aspect of your world is a draining and stressful exercise in futility. You are not really the CEO of your life. (Tweet that.)
- Instead of calling you to be the CEO of your life, the Bible invites you to take the position of steward. (Tweet that.)
- Maybe there’s a detour that’s better than the route you had planned. (Tweet that.)