The best gift I ever received as a kid was a dark green mini-bike. The year was 1964, and I remember circling it with a fat marker in the Sears and Roebuck catalog in hopes that I would get it for Christmas. There were two other kids in my neighborhood who got the same bike, and the three of us tore up the town.
When you really think about it, everything we have is a gift. It may sound cliche, but we can’t take any of our possessions with us to heaven. They were never really ours anyway. It all belongs to God, and we’ve simply been entrusted with time, talents, and treasure to steward. As Psalm 24:1 (NLT) says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” This perspective generates a posture of gratitude rather than one of entitlement.
Stewardship is defined as the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property. There is a gravity to it. When you are taking care of someone else’s property, you want to do a good job (especially when the owner is the creator of the universe.)
You don’t have to be a landlord or an entrepreneur for stewardship to apply to you. Each of us have been tasked with the responsibility to care for things like our family, friends, finances, career, community, and church. In every area of our life, we should ask ourselves the question, “What does it mean to be a good steward here?” There is a heightened degree of intentionality to how we live and what we do, but the reward is greater, too.
Jesus illustrated this principle with a story known today as the Parable of the Talents.
Parable of the Talents Summary
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus described the Kingdom of Heaven as a man going off on an extended trip (Matthew 25:14-30):
“He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.”
The Master congratulated the servants who doubled their money, and said, “‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’” However, the servant who was given one talent did not maximize his money. Here was his excuse:
“‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’”
Now, hating careless ways, demanding the best, and making no allowances for error is exactly how an investor should operate. However, the servant didn’t have a stewardship mentality. He thought the Master had only entrusted him with one thousand dollars. However, the Master thought like an investor. He saw the money’s potential.
“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’”
This may seem a little harsh. However, the Master wasn’t greedy. This was about far more than money. It was about heart posture and perspective. The good and faithful servants anticipated the Master’s return and worked diligently to multiply what was given to them. The “play-it-safe” servant buried his responsibilities and forgot about the Master. It was an easy route that required no intentionality.
Remember that the Master was a metaphor for Jesus’ return. Good and faithful servants understand that everything they’ve been given is a gift from God. That gift comes with an assignment to be fruitful and multiply in preparation for Jesus’ arrival. The reward is more opportunities to partner with God, now and in Heaven. With that, here are four practices to become good and faithful servants.
4 Practices to Become Good and Faithful Servants
1. Good and Faithful Servants Have an Eye For Multiplication
Good and faithful servants are always asking how something’s potential can be drawn out and multiplied for the Kingdom. After all, multiplication is a core biblical principle. Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish into enough food to feed more than 5,000 people. (See Matthew 14:13-20)He also said that the Kingdom of Heaven starts small, like yeast and mustard seeds, but that it will grow exponentially (See Matthew 13:31-33). God even designed human cells to multiply their DNA.
Every creative act contains boundless possibilities. We were designed with eternity in mind. When it comes to the work we have been entrusted to steward, there are many ways to have an eye for multiplication in your job, business, and investments.
Multiplication in Your Job
This isn’t about creating more work for yourself. Rather, multiplication in your job entails being efficient with your energy and the platform you’ve been given. Start by determining what faithfulness looks like in your role. It will be a combination of external and internal expectations. For example, your job description and your supervisor should provide external expectations that, if met, would indicate faithfulness. Are there accounts you’ve been charged to multiply, or an email list you are tasked with growing?
Internal expectations are just as important for faithfulness. Internal expectations describe how you hope to grow as a result of your job. This is also where your faith comes into play. As Colossians 3:23 (AMPC) encourages, “Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men.” Typically, this is not found in a job description. ) Prayerfully consider what God is doing in your company, and ask Him how you can partner with it.
Your work is your ministry. You cannot fulfill your assignment in your work without connection with God, so prioritize how to be mindful of his presence throughout the workday. Are there opportunities to multiply the gospel through your work? This could be through forming a relationship with a coworker and literally sharing the gospel, or it could be through creating good work that invites people to taste and see that the Lord is good.
Here’s a key– work harder on yourself than you do your job, and you’ll do better in your job.
Multiplication in Your Business
The primary way to have an eye for multiplication in your business is to find multiple revenue streams. For example, in addition to being a nonprofit, WealthBuilders has a for-profit entity. So, when we hold workshops and conferences, we’re constantly thinking about how we can maximize the impact and revenue from the event. So, we sell conference USBs that contain the workshop content. We also share select sessions on WealthBuilders University. As an entrepreneur, what are some creative ways you can maximize your resources with minimal extra effort?
Here are 8 potential revenue streams:
- Asset Sales
- Rental Fees
- Usage Fees
- Lending, Renting, and Leasing
- Licensing Fees
- Brokerage Fees
As a Christian business leader, multiplying money is not your only concern. Multiplying your industry’s impact for the common good is just as important. Consider: how does my business benefit my community? How are shareholders and employees growing as a result of my work? You may have heard it said that people are the best investment. Training your employees to become leaders who lead others is one of the most effective ways to be fruitful and multiply in the business world.
Multiplication in Your Investments
Perhaps this is the easiest space to conceptualize multiplication because the essence of investing is turning one into two. There is a lot I could say about investments, but I’ll leave it at this: expect your investments to pay you. That may sound obvious, but it’s not. You’d be surprised how many people make investments and forget about them.
Your revenue stream is directly related to your strategy. If you aren’t confident in your revenue stream, you aren’t confident in your strategy. That violates the golden rule of investing: NEVER invest in what you don’t understand.
So, will your investments:
- Pay you in the form of dividends?
- Generate income as something you rent out in the long or short-term?
- Have a long-time buy and hold strategy, making you money when you sell?
- Depend more heavily on equity or cash flow?
- Pay you at retirement?
This is by no means an exhaustive list. The goal of this section is simply to help you start seeing the world through a lens of multiplication.
2. Good and Faithful Servants Don’t Scale Too Quickly
In the Parable of the Talents, the Master was the one who gave the servants their talents to steward, and He was the one who rewarded the good and faithful servants with more responsibilities. They didn’t seek new responsibilities out themselves. Rather, they simply stewarded what the Master put into their hands. There’s an important principle here: the best things in life are attracted, not pursued.
We shouldn’t go out and seek more if we can’t steward what we have. In business terms, this is called scaling too quickly. For example, you don’t want to hire employees that you don’t have the capacity to pay, and you don’t want to undertake responsibilities that you don’t have the employees to fulfill. The same applies to our personal lives.
For example, you shouldn’t buy a television on credit if you don’t have the money to pay it off. In most cases, you shouldn’t leave a job before you fulfill the assignment God has given you there. To acquire more before we properly steward what we have is wasteful. Inevitably, things will slip through the cracks and we won’t fulfill God’s will for us in that space.
This is far from a passive approach to life. It takes discipline to maximize current opportunity when all you want to do is escape to the next thing. It is difficult to trust God to add the increase rather than moving forward in your own strength.
There’s good news, though. The Parable of the Talents assures us that if we remain good and faithful servants, there will be a time to move forward into something new.
3. Good and Faithful Servants Discern The Right Time to Take a Risk
Stewardship requires a balance of contentment and risk taking. Remember, the wicked servant was chided for not taking a risk. The Master said, “Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’” We don’t want to be “play-it-safes.” As Christians, we are to be people who take faith-filled risks. After all, God gives us dreams that are bigger than what we can accomplish alone. Risks are what create the space for His favor to move. However, we want to take wise, educated risks.
As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” I go through the following checklist of 5 things to discern whether or not it’s time to take a risk or make a significant change:
1. There has been preparation.
2. There is a shift in peace, presence, production, and priorities.
3. The opportunity is in line with my values.
4. It makes sense spiritually and naturally.
5. There is confirmation from others.
4. Good and Faithful Servants Maintain a Kingdom Perspective
As more resources and responsibilities are given to you, remember that the purpose is to make disciples of all nations. How can you use what you have to invite people to taste and see that the Lord is good? Whether it’s direct discipleship or working towards Kingdom realities like eradicating poverty, it is vital to stay focused. If we are to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servants” on the other side of our stewardship, a kingdom perspective is necessary.
Do you want to learn more about how to faithfully steward the resources you’ve been given? If so, you are invited to The 2023 WealthBuilders Conference: Maximize the Moment. We have a power-packed weekend planned for you, full of biblically-based teaching in the areas of leadership, business, real estate, and investing. Click here to save your spot with us February 17-19, 2022.