Discipleship and stewardship are terms we hear often in church. But they aren’t often used together. There’s a link between discipleship and stewardship, however, and it’s not one to miss.
Greg Ogden explains the characteristics of a disciple like this: Jesus called us to make disciples, and in the Great Commission, he also gives us three characteristics of what a disciple is. He says a disciple is one who goes. This disciple is one who’s been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. And a disciple is one who’s been taught to obey all that Jesus commanded. So a disciple is one who is submissive and obedient to Jesus’ intentions for his or her life.1
To fully understand our calling as disciples, we must understand our role as stewards. Oftentimes, it’s easy to think of stewardship only in relation to our finances and how we’re honoring God through giving. While that’s definitely part of it, stewardship involves much more.
Jesus taught about the link between discipleship and stewardship in the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14–30). Billy Graham explains it like this:
Even as he sets the stage, Jesus is telling us something important: we have an entrustment. Everything we have is given to us by God. Do we see ourselves as stewards or owners? The answer makes all the difference.
A steward lives for the day he will return the Master’s goods to Him. An owner believes his possessions are his to spend in any way he sees fit. All we have—our material goods, our abilities, and even our very lives—belong to someone else.2
When disciples begin to see themselves as stewards of God’s resources, we see a series of changes in their lives:
- They manage their resources differently. A steward recognizes God’s complete authority over their person and possessions. In other words, you are no longer in a position of ownership but are called to faithfully manage what you’ve been given.
- They give of themselves more freely. Stewards know what they have is a gift from God, not only for their benefit but also for the benefit of those around them. They grow into an eagerness to share what they have with people in need. They’re willing to endure painful or uncomfortable situations for the good of others.
- They begin to make more disciples (Matt 28:18–20). Following Jesus’ command to make disciples requires the humility of a steward. It’s continually investing in other people (over yourself) to help them know Jesus more.
Evidence of a steward
The beautiful thing about the link between discipleship and stewardship is that it boils down to this: God’s mission requires all of us—all we have and all we are. That’s tough to understand unless you know that everything you have was given to you by God in the first place. But when that truth sinks in, you can see it on your calendar, your contact list, your bookshelf, and your bank statement. The way we give ourselves to others—in our time, our abilities, and our finances—reflects the way God gave himself to us and for us.
When it comes to financial stewardship, Faithlife Giving offers tools to help you teach your church about generosity. With Faithlife Giving, you get a built-in calculator to help your givers plan for generosity, plus blog posts, guides, and other resources to help your givers understand the biblical principles of financial stewardship.