I recently spent a Sunday at Louie Giglio's Passion City Church in Atlanta. It's a church internationally known for powerful praise and worship, but that day, I accompanied Dave Ramsey, who spoke to a packed auditorium on stewardship.
As I sat in the front row, I realized something: Many people came to Passion City Church that day because Dave was speaking, but just as many came to experience some of the most powerful 18 minutes of praise and worship in the country. Some were there to learn about God's ways of handling money, but others were there to have their hearts transformed through worship. There were two different mentalities in the room.
It struck me just how expectant many of the people were for worship. Though they appreciated Dave's teachings, they were more expectant to experience worship than they were to hear about the concept of stewardship. Now, I get that. People should be more expectant about worshipping their Creator than anything else. However, I don't think many people understand that stewardship can actually be another form of worship! They drop stewardship into the math and money buckets in their minds, as opposed to their worship and heart buckets. As leaders, we must help them see stewardship differently. Biblical stewardship is worship.
We need to have a 30,000-foot view. When it comes to money, we need to start with the "why." When we see money as God sees it, and when our relationship with money is biblical, that money becomes a tool for worshipping Him.
Before any of us addresses the logistical, practical side of money management—budgeting, avoiding debt, saving, investing and giving—we must start with the right perspective. You see, a changed perspective leads to changed actions. Simply viewing money through a biblical lens causes people to permanently change the way they manage it—and they grow closer to God in the process.
It's possible for people to subconsciously understand money in three different ways when they're not viewing it biblically.
The pride perspective. Some people feel as though all the money in their bank accounts is due to their own hard work. Because they believe they earned it all, they believe they should be able to use it however they wish. This perspective leads to statements like "I deserve," which can lead to bad financial decisions.
The poverty perspective. People with this perspective believe wealth is evil. They think anyone with more money than they have is bad and shouldn't have all that money. They feel as though they don't have enough money, and if they just had more, their problems would disappear. That's not a biblical perspective either. The reality is a majority of Americans—including Christians and local churches—are wealthy by the rest of the world's standards. Wealth is not inherently wrong, but placing our hope in it is.
The prosperity perspective. This one is tricky. Scripture talks about prosperity in a positive light. It's one way God blesses us! But that doesn't mean if we pray hard enough, God will grant all our desires. He's not a genie in a magic lamp. That's not how it works. Proverbs 11:25 does tell us the generous will prosper, but prosperity can manifest in other ways that have nothing to do with money.
So what's the proper biblical perspective on money? It's this: The perspective of gratitude. When we realize what God has done for us and understand every dime we have is His and because of Him, our hearts change. We want to bless others. We're happy to give that money back to Him and His kingdom. The stewardship of our finances becomes an overflow of the gratitude we feel. The same spirit we have during worship—even the amazing, Spirit-filled worship I witnessed in Atlanta—comes forth when we budget, make a spending decision or give an offering.
Stewardship is worship. I would suggest we actually worship loudest through the megaphone of stewardship. The way we manage money is woven through every aspect of our lives and impacts so many of our daily decisions. Stewardship isn't something that happens every Sunday for 20 minutes in a corporate worship setting. This is worship we get to participate in every single day.
Whether we're spending, saving, giving or budgeting, we can say, "God, thank You for trusting me. I am so thankful I get to manage money for the King of kings and Lord of lords. Receive my worship."
Ministry leader, let's help people reframe their perspective of stewardship in their minds and in their hearts.
Chris Brown is a pastor and dynamic speaker carrying the message of intentional living nationwide as a Ramsey Personality. Host of the "Life, Money and Hope" podcast, Brown provides biblical wisdom and practical advice for life's everyday questions. Follow him online at stewardship.com, on Twitter and Instagram (@chrisbrownonair) or on Facebook (chrisbrownonair).
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