The dark side of stewardship
(Reflections from Sunday)
Years ago I had a young man with a severe addiction come and see me. One I would not feel comfortable sharing in a public forum. As he shared his heart it became clear it consisted of this awful combination of nature and nurture. His natural weaknesses and inclinations played well into his addiction, as did his childhood—a family member had abused him.
I remember sensing the deep hopelessness in his tone.
Have you ever met anyone so broken they have finally dropped all reservation and pride? They become an open book, desperately looking to be rescued?
Yeah, I literally could feel his hurt. It hovered in the room like a dark cloud.
It gets worse.
This poor young man had been to youth camps and retreats with his church. Over and over again he would approach God begging to be free. Nothing.
Though he didn’t directly say it, his deep fear began to surface. Was his addiction too great for the grace of God to fix?
Though he couldn’t articulate it, I believe he was afraid his sin was so great that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross wasn’t enough for him. This heretical void was slowly eating away at what little hope remained.
Every special speaker that gave a testimony about God miraculously freeing them from their struggles didn’t give him hope anymore. From his perspective, the stories of hope from others now served as reminder that he was abandoned.
So what is the answer?
The answer is stewardship, but not stewardship of the good, stewardship of the bad.
Let me clarify. Everyone has things they love and things they absolutely hate!
- Maybe you are a great singer. You love that you want to steward that and learn to use it for God’s glory.
- Maybe you are a great athlete. You love that and want to steward that for God’s glory.
- Maybe you are brilliant. You want to steward your intellect and use that for God’s glory.
- Maybe you are incredibly fun to be with. You want to steward your social gift for God’s glory.
What about the bad? (Hang on this is going to get increasingly tough to hear. Let’s start funny.)
- Maybe your feet stink. You should learn to steward that for our sake!
- Maybe you have really bad breath. Again, please steward that for all of us!
- Maybe you are overweight. It takes incredible personal stewardship to keep that under control. It’s not fair that others don’t have to deal with this!
- Maybe you struggle with depression. You have to watch everything, from what you eat to when you go to bed. Incredible stewardship is required. It’s not fair.
- Maybe someone did something to you. It truly isn’t far. You carry deep pain and memories. This is stewardship on steroids. Sometimes you don’t feel like you can manage it.
- Maybe you are in deep addiction. You hear stories of incredible instant freedom, and yet for some reason freedom seems to elude you.
Back to this young man who was battling with addiction. It’s clear to me we need to pray for freedom. It’s also quite clear that God sometimes teaches us through suffering, like Paul and the “thorn in his side” that he refers to. The Bible is full of people who struggled with deep issues. Some were instantly healed, some God used for a bigger purpose.
He started a journey to steward his weakness. God taught him humility, brought him into incredible transparent friendships, and let him taste the grace of God in such wonderful ways, through the stewardship of his weakness! Today he is a dad working in finance and living as a dynamic steward of his weak dispositions.
For him it wasn’t just the freedom from the struggle that saved him. It was the JOURNEY to freedom that God used to set him free!
What are the hard things that you have to steward? How can you be faithful in them? Take a moment and check out Sunday’s sermon.