Stewardship: The Heart
I always associated the word "stewardship" with wealthy people or the Lords and Kings of the Bible. I didn’t really think about stewardship as a daily process for myself. But that all changed after one conversation with a wise friend in a coffee shop last year. I told him that I had been reading finance books to learn how to become a better steward. He pointed out to me that stewardship is so much more than financial; we are meant to steward everything given to us. The general idea is, if you can manage and cause what God has given you to grow, He can be the one to bring and entrust you with more. For example, if I can steward my current job that God has given me by being excellent and thankful, then I don’t have to concern myself with how I am going to get to the dream job. Proverbs 22:29 says that a man who is gifted and skilled in his craft will find himself before kings. God can open those doors. In the meantime, my focus is on the lessons I am learning, the tools I am gaining and the people I am impacting/being impacted by. We will be given opportunities throughout our lives to steward our faith, our trust, our hope, our mind, our money, our relationships. Each “little” thing we are given is an opportunity for increase that God has entrusted into OUR hands. Every person has within themselves the ability to create increase. Recently I have become obsessed with what it looks like to steward my heart.
I remember being a young mom, having three babies under three years old and feeling like I was drowning in a pit of monotonous, unshowering forgottenness. While my husband pursued his dream to grow as a shepherd and communicator, I felt left behind. I have wanted to write and make movies since I was a kid; writing plays and forcing my sister and friends to act them out. I watched my friends and school peers go out to LA and work their way up the ladder. I was jealous of them, and of my husband for having the freedom to pursue their dreams. Actually, I was just jealous that they had conversations with other adult humans and could go to the bathroom alone. Every prophetic word and passionate dream of my heart felt distant and dead.
In college, I wrote a screenplay about King David. It was a treasure to so closely study a friend of God. I love the scene where the young David of Bethlehem encounters Goliath on the battlefield. Goliath spits out curses and insults that should shake and level the courage of the teenager before him. But David’s passionate, confident, response is:
“You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”(1 Samuel ESV)
Later, David wrote in Psalm 144 about his encounter with Goliath, "There is only one strong, safe, and secure place for me; it’s in God alone and I love him! He’s the one who gives me strength and skill for the battle." (TPT)
Defeating Goliath was David’s grand entrance into a world He had been anointed for; it was time for the unfolding of his destiny to begin. However, it had been long before that David had been given his prophetic promise. He was an afterthought at his own anointing ceremony; A ceremony that, unlike Saul's, was shrouded in secrecy and covered up. The truth of who he would be was so dangerous that no one present could talk about it for fear of death. After anointed by the prophet Samuel, God’s best for David, was to send him back to his lonely, hidden, forgotten hillside. He was stewarding a group of vulnerable sheep to who were completely oblivious of who he would become. If it were me, I would begin to doubt. I would start wondering if the prophet had gotten it right.
How must David have felt when his brothers, who had not been anointed, left to fight alongside Saul while he stayed behind? I imagine it felt pretty unfair, and lonely. But David stayed. He obeyed. He waited.
And most powerfully, he stewarded his heart well and took seriously the job he had been given.
If David hadn’t stewarded his time on the hillside well, processing his doubts and disappointments towards God, he wouldn’t have been ready for Goliath. He learned a very important key that his son would write about in Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
So what about me? I came to realize that God gave me a gift. Some small vulnerable and oblivious humans to steward. My journey didn't look like my husband or my peers. It’s my story.
I learned in a beautiful, messy, hidden and non-showering way that my children were my pathway to promotion. They are not the detour; they are the launching pad and expediting of my character to handle the promises I am carrying in my heart. And added bonus: I am investing in the next generation. What we as parents steward is NOBLE and IMPORTANT!
Fast forward after killing Goliath: David is the biggest celebrity in Israel. He wins every battle he is sent to. Politically, he is connected perfectly. He has married into the king’s family. The prince, his best friend, has basically stepped aside to make way for him because he sees the undeniable favor on his life. David is practically being trained for his new position of king by the king himself. Finally, he is ready to follow this prophetic train all the way to the throne.
Yay! So exciting!
Three years ago, after years of circumstances and prophetic words that were too overwhelming to be coincidence, our family sold our home in Texas and moved to California. Leaving was really hard but there was just so much momentum and prophetic behind us that we were exhilarated by the opportunity to follow God after such profound direction. God was entrusting us with stewarding a piece of his heart for California. The prophetic paved a way of favor that led us directly to California.
Yay! So exciting!
How many of you have ever experienced that when God gives you a big word with lots of confirmation, it could also be known as “You’re really gonna need this.”?
Well, it didn’t work out the way we planned. And it hurt. It was a lonely, confusing, painful failure. Marked by loss and a lot of humble pie. We were broken, confused and bereft of confidence. It was one of the lowest points of my life. Did we miss it? Had God brought us there just to crush us? Had the actions of others aborted the prophetic? My heart was devastated and I was in a whirling emotional space where I couldn’t tell you if God was good. My head knew I had learned it somewhere, but I sure didn’t feel it. We didn't know how to trust and dream big with God again.
The whole time that David is living in King Saul's palace, learning the ways of royalty and how a royal household runs, he has enormous favor. Everything is unfolding the way it should. Then Saul's jealousy and rage cannot be tamed. David is forced to run away. Back to obscurity. Back to being hidden, lonely, misunderstood; Wondering where he went wrong and how had he lost it all; The accusation against Saul and the people of his court; Old friends who were no longer there. Where is his prophetic word now? Had Samuel been wrong?
David has to start over; He has to walk away from everything he has spent years faithfully building. And it’s not fair.
I am not trying to compare my life to King David, only to show that in circumstances of confusion, disappointment and feeling lost, he is a great example of how to recover. Because despite it all, he chose to honor the Lord's anointed and grow as a leader. Much of David's psalms are written during this season of his life, and through them, we learn that though David's heart was broken, he commanded his soul to praise and fed his heart the truth of who God is.
So many of us are willing to sing to songs that "we surrender!" or declare that we will follow wherever God leads. But what about when he calls you away from a good thing? What about when you are in a hard place, but he asks you to stay? God was giving David a new gift. The gift of a true king.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
“we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”(Romans 5:3-5)
In 1976, a prophet named Bob Jones, had an experience where he went to heaven. When he reached the Lord, God only asked one question, “Did you learn to love?”.
I doubt He means, did you love people when it was easy or when they loved you back? I think He will be referring to the many opportunities we will have for confusion and heartbreak and the powerful moments we chose to feed truth and love to our heart.
The way we steward our heart MATTERS.
There is not a single hero in the Bible that didn’t have to choose to steward their heart well. (And I say "choose" because it's about choice and not about feeling. The feelings will follow the choice.)
Daniel was handed over to lions by the king he faithfully served, after faithfully serving many evil kings.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and put in prison by a man whose household he increased and served faithfully.
Ruth was an orphan who lost her husband and was left penniless.
Job lost E V E R Y T H I N G.
The disciples were hated, beaten, imprisoned and misunderstood.
Mary (mother of Jesus) looked like a harlot when she became pregnant out of wedlock.
Jesus was innocent but crucified for OUR sins.
King Saul was offended by David’s popularity and jealous of his favor.
Jonah was offended that God would pardon Nineveh.
Judas Iscariot was offended by the oil poured out and not used to give to the poor.
The Pharisees were offended that Jesus would call himself the Son of God, and heal on the Sabbath.
How you carry your heart through the process of it falling apart is the difference between being a hero and being a lesson. I once read a Lisa Bevere quote that said “who you are in the fire, is who you are.” When we feed our heart truth and love from the word of God, even if it feels dry and forced, it is the protein our heart needs to build back up stronger than before. If you are heartbroken, offended, wronged, or failing, there is hope. God is not done. It is not the end of your story.
Powerful love isn't what happens when you are raised in a bubble of fairness, perfect parenting, and ease of life. Powerful love is what happens when you have every reason and right to be bitter, self protecting and cruel but you choose the opposite.