No idea has impacted our marriage quite like the concept of biblical stewardship. When you hear that word you may have preconceptions about what it means, like how it probably has to do with your finances. That’s part of it, but stewardship is so much more!
The biggest game changer for us was the notion that we are stewards, not owners, of everything we have. It’s counter-cultural for sure, but it’s extremely liberating to realize that our time, treasure, talent, and relationships are not ours, they’re all God’s. We’re his appointed stewards to care for everything he’s given us, and we are to care for it well and hold it all with an open hand. It may be a new idea to you, so let’s explore.
Seeing ourselves as stewards has at least two positive impacts on our lives:
- We’re freed from materialism and from striving for more for the sake of more
- It shifts the glory and weight of all we have and accomplish to God
This shift in perspective affects EVERY aspect of life, marriage included. It affects how we approach our spouses, conflict, money, time, and even sex. I could expand on each one, but instead, I’m delighted to have a guest blog post from a man I admire: R. Scott Rodin. You can read more about him at the bottom of this post, but basically, he’s awesome. Scott is one of the world’s leading proponents of biblical stewardship and steward leadership. His writings have shaped our whole marriage in a way few have, and I know we’ll continue to grow as a result of Scott’s teaching. He wrote these words just for us–for you, our readers. It’s not a copy/paste thing.
He and I worked very closely to write something that would truly resonate with you. I hope it does; enjoy!
By R. Scott Rodin
The road to a happy marriage is littered with mines. I can hear you say, “Yep, stepped on a few.” They are explosive and can leave a lot of wounds behind. And yet, they are avoidable, if you are willing to identify them and steer clear.
There are three ‘marriage mines’ I will focus on: my needs, my time and my feelings.
The key to avoiding these mines is in understanding the difference between a steward and an owner. Here’s a quick definition. Stewards see everything as belonging to God and their role is to take care of all God has given them. Owners see things as belonging to them and they are in control to use them as they please.
Imagine your son borrows your car and brings it back dirty and empty. When you confront him on it he replies, “Hey, I can do what I want. It’s my car.” Feel your blood pressure rising? He was given the role of a steward and he turned it into a negligent owner.
So here is the question – are you an owner or a steward of your marriage? Is it a gift from God that you steward lovingly and selflessly to glorify God, or do you see your marriage as ‘mine’, something you can control for your own ends?
With these definitions in place, let’s look at the three ‘mines’.
Marriage Mine #1: My Needs
Owners in a marriage focus on their own needs and look to their spouse to meet them. This can be overt or subtle. Needs can be for attention, praise, service, sex, etc.
We all have these needs and we hope they are met in our marriages. The key here is whether they are the focus of our marriage (owner) or the result of our desire to first meet the needs of our spouse (steward).
Owners control relationships to be sure their needs are met first. Stewards are free to meet the needs of their spouse first, believing that through sacrificial love, their needs will be met in return.
If you are always looking to get your needs met, you are stepping into a ’mine’ field. Step away and choose instead to be a steward that meets the needs of your spouse first and foremost.
Marriage Mine #2: My Time
Owners protect their time as their time. Stinginess with time is a major marriage ‘mine’ field. How often have you heard these phrases?
- “We don’t spend enough time together.”
- “You don’t spend enough time with the kids.”
- “You’re always spending time with your friends and not me.”
Time in a marriage is a precious commodity. If we use it and control it as owners we will constantly be stepping on the ‘mines’ of time.
Here our Christian faith demands even more of us. The reality is, all time belongs to God. Every second we are alive is a gift from God. Stewards acknowledge this and want nothing less than to invest their time as God directs. They pray about how God would have them use their time and they invest their time in the gifts he has given them. And marriage is at the top of that list.
How different would your marriage be if you both committed every second of your day to God and sought through prayer how He would have you spend it? How many time wasting habits would be broken? How many more minutes and hours would be freed up to invest in each other, in family, in devotions and in prayer?
Steward your time as God’s time and avoid the ‘my time’ mine field.
Marriage Mine #3: My Feelings
Just as with our needs and our time, owners focus on ‘my feelings’ first and try to control situations accordingly.
Stewards are free to love their spouse and guard their spouse’s feelings instead of their own. They follow the example of Jesus, “We love Him because He first loved us.” By investing our full self in the care taking of the feelings of our spouse, we not only show our love for them, but we set them free to do that same for us.
Steward the feelings of your spouse and avoid the ‘my feelings’ mine field. Remember, any hint of ownership and the whole thing falls apart.
When you turn these ‘mines’ into ‘yours’, ‘ours’ and ‘God’s’, your marriage can grow deeper and richer, and God gets the glory. Are you an owner or a steward of your marriage?
About R. Scott Rodin
Dr. Rodin is president of The Steward’s Journey and Kingdom Life Publishing. He also runs Rodin Consulting, Inc. He is a Senior Fellow of the Association of Biblical Higher Education and is past board chair of ChinaSource and the Evangelical Environmental Network.
Dr. Rodin holds Master of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Systematic Theology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
His latest book, The Seventh Key, shows us how to unlock the life God created us to live, moving from bondage to freedom through seven keys that unlock seven chains that hold us captive. This is the highly anticipated third book in the trilogy following The Third Conversion and The Million Dollar Dime.