My middle name is Stewart, which comes from my mother’s maiden name. Her father was a descendant of the Stewarts of Scotland, many of whom emigrated to America in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The name Stewart is actually derived from the term “steward,” which was initially adopted by Walter Fitz Alan, the son of a Bretton knight who emigrated from Brittany to England and later Scotland in the 12th century, and became the “High Steward of Scotland” in the service of King David I.
The High Steward was an extremely important position, second only to the king himself. He was responsible for administration on behalf of the Scottish crown, fulfilling much the same role as that of Prime Minister today. He oversaw all of the domestic affairs of the kingdom and the treasury, was charged with protecting the realm, and ruled on the king’s behalf while the king was away, especially during times of war or exile. The House of Stewart later ascended to royalty and ruled Scotland, England, and Wales throughout most of the 17th century.
Scripture teaches that every believer is a steward in God’s kingdom and is an overseer of the resources that He has entrusted to them. Peter speaks of this when he says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Pet. 4:10) While we often think of stewardship simply in terms of being faithful in giving our tithes and offerings, in reality that’s only one small though important part of it. Being a steward is actually a much greater and more privileged responsibility than just giving money to support God’s work. It involves recognizing our high calling to be God’s representatives in this world, who are to serve, protect, and advance God’s will in the kingdom.
Being a steward means that we are called upon to use not only our money, but also our talents, our spiritual gifts, our knowledge, our time, our very lives, in service to God and others because we represent the King of the Universe to the rest of the world. Ultimately, He is the One who owns all of these resources and has provided them to us so that they can be used for His purposes. We are merely caretakers of these things. When we recognize this and stop trying to manage and use them for our own benefit as though they were ours and start using them for God’s glory instead, we will find that He will always provide for our needs just as He has promised He would.
Stewardship is a privilege as well as a sacred responsibility because we get to administer God’s grace and His resources for the greater work of saving souls. The King of Creation has redeemed us and entrusted us with everything that we have, including all of our financial, material, physical, mental, and spiritual endowments, because He wants us to use them to reach those who are lost so that they may be saved and reconciled to Him for eternity. Stewardship isn’t just what we are supposed to do. It’s who we are called and empowered to be.
My middle name and heritage serve as a constant reminder to me that I am not to see myself as just a mere subject or a serf in God’s kingdom who must pay a grudging tribute. That’s not what a steward is. I am His representative for whom He gave His own life and has promised to supply all my need according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19)! I’ve been empowered and entrusted with administering all of the resources He has provided in order to share His grace so that more people can come to know our Great King and His saving love. But it also reminds me that while I am a representative and a servant, I am also His child and a royal heir, just as He has made you and everyone else who believes in Him to be royal heirs who will share in His reign (Rev. 1:5-6). With such a high and noble calling, I want to faithfully carry out the responsibilities of stewardship by devoting all that I have and all that I am to Him so that when He returns, He will say to me “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord!” (Matt. 25:21).
By Michael Stewart Sims, Gift Planning & Trust Services Director