Total stewardship is much more than money, material possessions or giving. As the old adage puts it so well, “Total stewardship consists of the three ‘Ts’ — time, talent and treasure.”
Time, talent and treasure do work together to comprise what might be called “total stewardship.” Those three elements are like the legs of a three-legged stool. Each leg is absolutely essential if the stool is to remain standing. Remove any one of the three legs, and the stool will be unable to fulfill its function.
The same thing is true of total stewardship. Remove time, talent or treasure, and total stewardship ceases to function as it should. It is no longer “total stewardship.” Instead, stewardship which is missing one of these ingredients will be unbalanced and somewhat dysfunctional.
Why, then, does “Effective Stewardship: Building on Biblical Principles” emphasize the “treasure” or the financial aspect of total stewardship? Shouldn’t it give equal attention to time, talent and treasure? The reason it does not is because those of us in the pew have created an untenable situation for those in the pulpit. If a pastor preaches on time or talent, the result is positive. But if the pastor preaches on treasure, people may take umbrage and complain. As a result, many pastors are in a no-win situation. If they preach on money, material possessions and giving, people get offended. If they do not, then people do not give as they should. Nor are they trained to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to them.
The “Effective Stewardship” program attempts to transfer the burden of financing the church from the pastor to the laity. It attempts to place on the shoulders of lay people the responsibility for stewardship education and training. It attempts to utilize lay speakers and newsletter articles to say what the pastor may have difficulty saying. The monthly newsletter articles and lay speaker presentations can be used by the Spirit of God to impart messages that otherwise probably would be left unsaid. And these articles and lay speaker presentations have a high level of acceptability by people in the pew because they are coming from their colleagues and peers.
Make no mistake: Total stewardship does consist of time, talent and treasure. And total stewardship does not begin with the movement of the hand to the wallet, purse or checkbook. Rather, it begins in the heart, for when a person’s heart belongs to God, then time, talent and treasure will follow. But as you utilize the “Effective Stewardship” program in your church, realize why it emphasizes the “treasure” aspect of total stewardship.