EP 168 – STEWARDSHIP IN REPLANTING
Welcome back Bootcampers! In this EP we get down to the important topic of Stewardship-our focus is on how we are stewarding our gifting, leadership opportunities and the foundational questions: 1) Who does the church belong to and 2) What is my role as a Steward.
Sit back listen in and we’d love to hear your feedback-drop us a line, a voice mail or a comment.
“When we believe that the things we possess are actually ours or exist because of us, they begin to control and define us rather than the other way around. Consequently, our security and identity becomes rooted in them. And then, we are unable to separate ourselves from them, or release them, or trust God with them because to do so would mean to lose our selves. This was never God’s intention for the gifts He gives His creation.” – Mike Ayers, Stewardship, not Ownership
The Parable of the talents is a great place to establish a biblical basis for this – Matthew 25:14-30
- We have been entrusted with gifts
- Not everyone gets the same amount
- What do we have to do to be told; “Well done!”
- How should we live in order to be good and faithful servants?
- What does the third servant teach us?
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JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp. Bob, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. this time we’ve gotten a little bit behind. We’ve been a couple weeks ahead and then life has gotten crazy and so we’re actually week of and when this goes live, you and I each will be on our way to Nashville for at least for me, the last replant trip of 2022.
What about, is this the last one for you?
Bob Bickford: It is Jimbo. It’s been a long and winding road. and I remember, I was looking back for Facebook memories. I like that feature. You know, you can kind of see where you’ve been and what you’ve done and, and that sort of thing. And, um, about this time last year, we were enjoying a, Dinner in New Orleans with our, folks from the Korean Baptist Convention and, uh, that made me think of Char grilled oysters.
And, hey, I’m looking forward to this summer because if you are, a re planter and you are part of the sbc, the event’s gonna be in Noah and Jimbo. I I’ve heard you’re gonna rent a double decker bus and take us [00:01:00] on a restaurant tour, is that correct?
JimBo Stewart: Look, I’ve done one bus tour around New Orleans, and I’m not telling that story on this podcast,
Bob Bickford: You told me about that. I wish you could. We have to have a special, uh, subscriber section of the bootcamp for that story. That’s.
JimBo Stewart: You’ll have to prod that one outta me one day. I see, I see you’re getting to hang out with Daisy Pup downstairs today.
Bob Bickford: Indeed Jimbo. So I, I just wanna apologize in advance. If you hear a squeaking noise, that’s her green ball. And if you hear something crash, uh, I’m, I’ve got my headphones on so it means I’m running through the house trying to wrangle Daisy. She’s nine months old. She’s about 50, I would say probably 53, 54 pounds now.
And she is a snugly sweet dog. But Jimbo, can I just say she is mischievous.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. How so?
Bob Bickford: Well, she likes to take anything that we’ve left on the kitchen table or the dresser or the kitchen counters. She hops up [00:02:00] there and grabs it, and then it’s, the chase is on. She likes to, to run through the house. And, uh, Jimbo, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a, a 55 year old man run, but it is. It’s not the best site in the world.
And so I think she takes great glee in it. One time she grabbed my phone, uh, in the backyard. I was doing some yard work or something, had my phone on one of the patio tables, Jimbo, she, she grabbed it and then I came back in the yard to the gate and she was across the yard staring at me saying, come on.
and the race was on. So Barb was watching from the kitchen and.
JimBo Stewart: That’s awesome. I heard a comedian once talk about how, uh, we talk about that you have the dog and you’re the dog’s master, but the comedian challenged that if one of you, if there’s a relationship between two beings and one takes care of the other, one’s food, bathes them, scoops up their poop, which, which one of them is the master?
Bob Bickford: Yeah, absolutely. Well, in this case, let me introduce you [00:03:00] to Master Daisy Pup or whatever we would call her, that would be gender appropriate for a female dog.
JimBo Stewart: Well, it was 2022. You gotta be really careful about gender appropriate. There’s, there’s
Bob Bickford: I know you, there are a lot of options. You gotta, you gotta.
JimBo Stewart: Okay. Probably even for dogs. speaking of who’s the master and who owns what, Bob, today what I wanted to dive into is a conversation I’ve been having with a lot of people lately in regard to the importance of having a stewardship mentality and, recognizing as ministry leaders this vital that we remember that we.
stewards and we don’t own anything and we’ve gotta shift the culture in our church from a ownership culture to a stewardship culture.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I think that’s great cuz so many times when we’re consulting the dying church, we hear, this phrase my church
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm.
Bob Bickford: or. Our church. And I understand what people are saying by that. And, and I think we’ve got [00:04:00] some good sweet people who are, are trying to, to say the church that we belong to in this location, but there’s a fine line when that starts to transfer into, this is my church and this is what I want for it.
And uh, and so that’s a challenge for our re planters and revitalizer.
JimBo Stewart: On the, for the church, blog. I, I found an article talking about this, doing a little research, called Stewardship Not Ownership, by Mike Ayers. And he says, uh, when we believe the things we possess are actually ours or exist because of us, they begin to control and. Fine us rather than the other way around.
Consequently, our security and our identity becomes rooted in them and then we are unable to separate ourselves from them or release them or trust God with them because to do so would mean to lose ourselves. And this was never God’s intention for the gifts that he gives creation. And in this article, he wasn’t specifically talking about ministry leadership, but just things in general in our life.
And I do think over time, we end. Kind [00:05:00] of taking more of an ownership mindset than we should. I, I think it’s probably one of the biggest reasons that change can be very difficult, in a church cuz it’s, you’re changing something that feels tied to my identity and when it’s really just part of the infrastructure, it’s just a program or a policy or a, a.
Furniture, carpet or something. But we get very emotionally attached. Like it becomes part of how we identify ourselves as a believer and how we identify our, our faith in, in that church. And so, this is, this is a really hard thing, but I, I’m more and more convinced that it’s incredibly, I.
Bob Bickford: I agree with you, and most of the times when we talk about this topic, we, we target our focus on the congregation. The folks who’ve been around for 15, 20 years plus, that’s declined. But we, we also need to flip the mirror back and the focus back on us because as a replant or a revitalizer, we can have in our minds the [00:06:00] congregation that we. The Lord to, to build or that he, we want him to use us to build. And in the same way we can end up feeling like, Hey, this, this ain’t your church, aunt Sue or Uncle Bill. But this also isn’t my church, the church that I have in my head, right? This is, this is God’s church. And so between. His work in both of us.
As we move forward, we’re gonna see his church come about as a part of the congregation participates in it and affirms it as the pastor and the leaders lead it towards that section. So I, I, I just maybe make that note from the outset that this is, is for both sides of, both sides of the, for uh, each to part this.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. As ministry leaders, it’s vital that we remember that we are stewards, we are not owners. But we are stewards. We don’t own anything. So we’ve gotta shift, make that shift in our own leadership and we’ve gotta disciple and shepherd our churches that we’re leading to make that shift in the culture of the church as well.
I’ve been asked to [00:07:00] preach at several churches lately that a few of them I thought, This was a concept I really felt like the Lord was leading me to, point them to. So I started praying for a great passage that could help illustrate that, and I landed on the parable, the talents. And so, Bob, what I’d like to do is really build kind of from here.
less of the exactly how to, but more of the, I wanna, I wanna make the biblical argument for today on why stewardship’s important through the parable talents. Very well known parable in Matthew 25.
Bob Bickford: I think it’s great. Jimbo. I’m all about the Bible and uh, we should probably. Consult it as we think about leading the church. And so I’m looking forward to this Bible exposition. and let’s go. Let’s do it.
JimBo Stewart: Well, so one, let’s talk about the context, right, cuz context is key. This is part of what’s called the olive or eschatological discourse. At the end of chapter 24, right before this, Jesus told the disciples that no one knows the day or the hour when he will return. And then he goes into a series [00:08:00] of stories and parables, that talk about what that will look like when he returns and how to be ready.
And so Chapter 25 begins with the parable to 10 virgins waiting for the bride groom, and then he transitions from that par. Into the one that we have today. And so the first point I wanna make on that is if you look at verse 14, so it’s Matthew 25, 14 through 30. For, there’s in verse 14, we see that, uh, we have been entrusted with gifts.
It says Fort is just like a man about to go on a journey. He called his own servants and entrusted his possessions to them for it is just like a man. What is it? What’s the kingdom of God and the return of Christ? What is that like? It’s like this man’s about to go on a journey, calls his servants, andrus his possessions to them.
Well, Bob, Jesus is coming back. We need to be ready. but what does it mean to be. and I think this text kind of sets us up for that, in this conversation.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, the, there’s a, a lot to that word in trust and thinking through that, we’ve been [00:09:00] entrusted, as individuals with the gifts that we’ve been given through the spirit, through education, through training, uh, The church, the church members the same thing. And then we’ve also been entrusted with a place and a facility and some resources.
So a lot of times churches may doubt that they’ve been given much, but they’ve been given much in one another, but they’ve also been given. Much in their location and their resource. And we see this, particularly when church planters are looking for a building, one of the things they say is, man, just gimme an address.
Right? I’m tired of meeting in the school, the strip mall, the, you know, the backyards, all the basement, all that kind of stuff. And so, let’s, let’s just re re acquaint ourselves with the fact that that facilities, regardless of their condition, are pretty valuable. And If you invest in that locale and that place and that facility that the Lord’s given you, and it’s, it’s part of the deal.
It’s part of, part of the gift, part of part of the resources.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I mean, so Jesus has entrusted us. Second Timothy one 14 tells us that we’re to guard the good deposit through [00:10:00] the Holy Spirit who lives in us. But I, I, I. Fairly confident. Most of our listeners, uh, if not all of our listeners are very familiar with this passage and they know that, there are three servants that are given things and none of them are given the same amount.
and and I think it’s a good principle for us to realize, to help us not fall into the trap of comparison. That not everyone is gifted with the same amount of resources or things. Uh, Matthew 25 15 to one, he gave five talents to another, two talents to another, one talent, depending on each one’s ability.
And then he went on a journey. Bob, as a young man, the first time I heard this story, I really thought it meant talents like. Some people, he gave the ability to juggle some people. He gave the ability to sing. Some people he gave, you know, I started like, what, what talents did, did God give me? I can’t carry a tune.
I can’t juggle, I can’t, uh, I don’t, I don’t know that I’ve got a lot of talents, but
Bob Bickford: Bro, you can spin a you, you can spin a story like nobody I’ve ever met in my life. [00:11:00] Jimbo. I think you have the talent of storytelling. I don’t think it’s a spiritual gift, but it’s a talent. and then you, man, you can fire up some chicken wings too. I’m telling you what brother, you, you got the ability to talent, to cook, to cook, but I, I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about
JimBo Stewart: No, that’s not what this passage is about. And there, look, there’s a lot of debate on how much money a talent is. here’s the conclusion I’ve come to. A talent is a very large amount of money. It’s a lot. people love to get into weird debates about how much money. I don’t think the exact amount is important other than it is a very large amount of money.
And I do think it’s important to recognize that it is a large amount. And here’s why. Cuz even the guy who got one talent got a lot of money. like none of the three servants were given like pennies. you know, some would say that a talent is like 20 years wages. so even the guy who got one. Got 20 years wages.
Bob, if I gave you a gift of 20 years wages right now, would [00:12:00] you complain?
Bob Bickford: No, I’d be headed to a beach somewhere, Jimbo. I would, Maybe, uh, buy a vbo and, rent it out on occasion and do all that, and then do ministry out that, and, uh, make it a retreat for pastors who’ve had a hard time in their church. So
if you’re 20 talent person out there, if you’re, if you’re
out there, you
JimBo Stewart: I appreciate that you were ready to invest it because, uh, if you don’t invest it, then you are the wicked and lazy servant.
Bob Bickford: I know he just buried it. So I think that that’s consistent with your ex Jesus here, that if Jimbo, if you gave me a coin, unless it was a Bitcoin, but I think they’re even losing their value now. But if you, if you just gave me a coin, and I wanted to keep it safe, I probably wouldn’t bury it. But if I had 20 years worth wages, I’d need to make sure they were secure somewhere.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. Hey, look, not only have we been entrusted with gifts, but not everyone gets the same amount. A couple of passages come to my mind to even demonstrate this. Ephesians four, seven says, now, grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s [00:13:00] gift, Romans 12, three. It’s just for, by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think.
Instead, think sensibly has go as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. and Bob, as we look at, what God has. Given each of us to steward, it’s really easy to fall under the trap of comparison and wish that we had been given the same things to Stewart as somebody else. But I think it’s really important to recognize that, God’s probably, and by probably I say that snarly smarter than you.
and he’s got some pretty good reasons for why he entrusted you, what he entrusted.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. And I, man, that’s such a good point. And I think we forget that. And one of the things I, I have a really good friend who, I’ve done a lot of project to work with and we think differently and we operate differently. And one of the things that is a typical interaction is after we’ve been working di with some folks on a project facilitating discussion, et cetera. After the event and we’re kind of wrapping up and saying, well, how’d [00:14:00] that go? He, he always affirms something in me that is unique about me and different from him, and he will say, man, I am so thankful for you because you’re wired up like this and God made you to do some incredible, wonderful things that I couldn’t do at all.
Right? And I love the, the affirmation of. Because it, it does help me just rejoice in the fact that God has gifted me in a particular way to do certain things, but not everything. Right? And so I think the older I get, the more I realize, man, if, if I can just lean into what I’m uniquely gifted to do
and be confident in that and let the Lord bless that the man that is.
Life giving and freeing because I’m not trying to be someone I’m not. Right? And so I always say this like in your twenties, you think you can do everything. In your thirties, you think you have to do everything. In your forties, you realize that you can’t do [00:15:00] everything. And in your fifties. Where I’m at right now, you realize what you can do and you focus on that, right?
So, man, I just, I I, I love that point and, and I, I just wanna celebrate the guys out here, that are thinking, man, I’m just not as talented as somebody. Maybe not like they’re talented, but you have some gifting and ability, uh, in a particular area that’s unique to you. And so, and I pray for them that somebody would see that and affirm it and they would rejoice.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. Look, God didn’t skimp on you, man. He, he gave you things that he is giving you to steward, not to own, to steward, to use and invest for him. And so we all know that the, the great phrase we get to hear outta this passage is well done, good and faithful servant. And I think we all want to hear that.
I think we all wanna stand before the Lord one day and hear well done good and faithful servant. But what do we have to do to be told? Well done. Uh, I mean, it, it indicates some sort of, done some sort of action. So if we continue in the passage, verse 16th or 18, the man who had received five talents [00:16:00] went, put them to work and earned five more.
In the same way, a man with two talents earned two more, but the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now, a couple things I wanna point out here. One, the characters in this story show us that our behavior really displays our beliefs. The way I like to say that is we do what we believe.
Uh, if you wanna know what we believe, just look at what we do. And as Passage really kind of echoes the questions of Jesus’ brother James from the second chapter of James, when he says in two 14, what good is it? My brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have. But does not have works. And then James goes on in verse 17, to say, faith, if it does not have works is dead by itself.
So in other words, we do what we believe. And then James concludes chapter two by saying, for just as the body without the spirit is dead. So also faith without works is dead. And so I’ve gotta ask Bob, can we rightly be told, [00:17:00] well done if we aren’t doing.
Bob Bickford: Well, I mean, that’s a pretty easy question. No. you know, I think, Jimbo, have you ever met the guy that, that always is talking about what he’s gonna do, but he never does it?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah,
Bob Bickford: Yeah. I mean, I. There’s, there’s not a more frustrating conversation that you can have. Like the first time, you know, you’re sharing an egg in a hole, you know you’re enjoying a good breakfast and he’s gonna, he’s telling you about what he’s gonna do and the next time you meet him, you meet him at a lunch place and you’re enjoying a slice of deep dish pizza and he’s got a, he’s built on that.
Or maybe he’s shifted directions and so you’re like, ok, alright. He’s evaluating, he’s kinda learning and, and then five or six meetings and 50 pounds. This fella is still talking and he ain’t doing
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: so. Don’t be that guy.
JimBo Stewart: Don’t be that guy. you know, we could, there, there are times I think Bob, we could [00:18:00] just re aim this podcast and don’t be that guy.
Bob Bickford: we to, we do whole series on
on that. don’t, be
don’t beat that
guy. Or don’t a guy like
JimBo Stewart: Well look, I think one of the important things for us to recognize the difference between the first two servants and the third servant is not just that they were obedient, but they had a belief that led to obedience. And that belief came from their relationship with the master, as you can see, is it goes on to talk about what we’ll get to more of the text in a minute.
Uh, The master. What does the master say? Share in your master’s joy. Right? Like there’s something about they believed that this master was a generous, man and that, but the third one seems to have different motives. And so let’s look at that real quick. How should we live in order to be called good and faithful servants?
Well done. Good. And Facebook servants look at 23 through, uh, 19th through 20. After a long time, [00:19:00] the master of those servants came and he settled accounts with them. The man who had received five talents approach presented five more talents and said, master, you gave me five talents. See, I have earned five more talents.
His master said to him, Well done. Good and faithful servant. You are faithful over a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy. And the man with the two talents also approached and he said, master, you gave me two talents. See, I’ve earned two more talents. And his master said to him, well done.
Good and faithful servant. You are faithful over a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Share. And your master’s joy. Uh, I think that’s a big piece to share in your master’s joy. I mean that’s in John 15. It tells us to, you know, this whole section about he is the vine. We are the branches of Biden, him of Biden’s word to Biden his love.
But what does it say later in John 15? I tell you all these things so that your joy may be complete and my joy may be in you. these two servants, if behavior. Really does tell us what you believe and who you are. look at the behavior of this master. This master is [00:20:00] joyful and generous. He is not who the third servant’s gonna make him out to be.
he is joyful and he is the two servants. The first two, they didn’t know when he was coming back exactly or what that would look like, but they believed that he would return and would reward their faithfulness. And Hebrews 11, six tells. That without faith that is impossible to please God. Since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
And so part of his stewardship mentality, I think Bob is understanding that we have, we have been entrusted with something. We don’t know when our masters coming back, but we believe in him and we believe that he’s gonna return. And we believe that when he returns, he will reward our faithfulness.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, so. You’re gonna either operate by faith or by fear. And then I would add a, a second, a third category out of frustration. Right? So faith is [00:21:00] believing that God’s word says what it says, and it will come true That God will build his church, that God has equipped to you, that God has called you. All those things that we would say this, that belong in a faith category to remind yourself of fear is the antithesis of that.
Is this church gonna survive? Is God gonna work through me? Can I do this? You know, all of those sorts of things. And then frustration is this ain’t going how I want it to go. Right. And, and I think sometimes looking back on my replanting journey, I operated by faith. I also operated in and I operated out of frustration.
And probably every pastor could say that were moments that, that were like that for them. So I think that. Ground yourself back to the the standard of faith, right? Like operate by faith. Like believe that, believe what God has said, believe in his word, believe in the scriptures to inform you about the work, and believe in, in the fact that God has called you and equipped you for that specific place, [00:22:00]for this particular time, and that your giftings and your skills and your abilities and the resources that are around you are gonna be effective for what he’s called you to.
JimBo Stewart: That’s a good word, as look as as leaders in ministry. It’s believers of our stewardship is based on the fact that our master is returning and that we wanna share in his joy. and it doesn’t, doesn’t have, doesn’t need to be a fearful waiting for the master to return. This is a, uh, I can’t wait for him to return.
And so what, what do we do? In the meantime, well, we, are faithful with what he’s given us. So let’s, let’s land the plane a little bit on the third servant. What does it look like when we don’t do that? When we, when we live by fear rather than by faith? If you look at the last few verses, 24 through 30, it says, the man who had received one talent also approached and said, master, I know.
You are a harsh man reaping where you haven’t sewn and gathering where you haven’t scattered seeds. So I was afraid and I went [00:23:00] off and I hid your talent in the ground and see you have, what is yours? As master replied to him, you evil, lazy servant. If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sewn and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers and I would’ve received my money back with interest when I returned.
So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10 talents for everyone who has more will be given, and he will have more than. But from the one who does not have even what he has will be taken away from him and throw this good for nothing servant out into the outer, outer darkness where they will be weeping and naing of teeth.
Bob, this took a turn like this. We went from share the joy of your master to throw this good for nothing servant into the outer darkness.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, that means he’s gonna get the replant from Gaana, right? So there’s E There he goes,
JimBo Stewart: [00:24:00] Man, this takes a big, big turn. Here’s the deal, and this is, we can laugh about this on the podcast and we, we alluded to it from the front end. It is hard not to shift into the ownership mentality, especially when you’ve been a part of a church for a really long time, or when you’re a visionary leader and you’re convinced your visionary ideas are the best ideas.
Either one of those leads you into thinking that you own things and when you think you own things, you forget the point was getting to share and the joy of the master. That’s the point. And and just so just replant her. Revitalize as you’re listening to this, we’re coming towards the end of the year and so you’re probably in an evaluative state and you’re probably looking back on your year and you’re probably not seeing the metrics you wanted to see chances.
As you look at the numbers, you’re thinking, man, I really had hoped this year would go a lot better than it has.
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm.
JimBo Stewart: well man, it [00:25:00] wasn’t yours. don’t measure what you’ve done off of the results that you have. The point of the story isn’t how much they returned to the master, it’s that they were faithful with what he gave him, and they knew that they were stewards, not owners. Don’t live by fear. and to the church member of a struggling, dying church that’s having a hard time letting go. And there’s a really hard cha challenge I read in a commentary with from DA Carson about this, and it says, it’s not enough for Jesus’ followers to just hang in there and wait for the end.
They must see themselves as servants who improve what their master and trust to them failure to do so proves they cannot really be valued disciples at all. This story ended a hard challenge and a hard rebuke, but I think it’s pretty serious. And so we try to be lighthearted on the podcast, but. I think it’s super important that we make sure as leaders, we have a stewardship mindset, not a ownership mindset, and that we are cultivating that within the culture [00:26:00] of the congregations that God has entrusted us.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, mean that quote from DA Carson is, standing out to me in, in this regard, and I wanna say this as, as kindly as gently, but also with a little bit of a prophetic, edge to it. we’ve got some, some pastors, I know some pastors, and probably our listeners know some pastors who. And your goal is just, I’m, I just gotta hang on and I’ve just gotta do Sunday after Sunday and I’ve gotta preach.
And I think that’s can be a worthy goal, but at some point that’s, that ceases to be the call. Just to, just to preach a sermon. Just to do the bare minimum. Just to wait until Jesus comes back. Maybe it’s time to be courage. And say, the best thing I can do as a steward of what God’s given me is to step out of the way and to hand this over to somebody who can now take it up and take it to where the Lord wants them to take it to.
And for me just to [00:27:00] step outta that situation. And so then there’s no shame in that, and I think God would smile upon that and honor that. If you are just hanging on, just struggling and just trying, just to keep, you know, something going, but you’re like that third sermon. You just, you’re fearful, you’re frustrated, you’re hurting.
You just feel. I’ve gotta, I just gotta stay out. I have no other option. Well, you do have another option. Be a faithful and sometimes faithful stewardship means realizing that it’s time to step out of the assignment that you’re, and wait until God does something in your life to lead you somewhere else.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, and I think part of it comes down to not forgetting who the master is. The third servant seemed to really go astray in his perception of who the master was. The first two really knew who he was. They knew that he was generous and joyful, but the third master seemed to have some other picture in his head, and it’s one of the dangers of an ownership mentality as we end up misconstruing who God is and who we.
[00:28:00] so replant to revitalize. As you get into a natural season of evaluation and reset towards the end of the year, make sure you have a stewardship mindset.