Last year, we discussed Michael Hyatt’s approach to goal-setting in the context of individual stewardship goals. This year, we’ll look at applying that same approach to leading a stewardship ministry in your church.
A few of us may be used to accomplishing all the goals we set, moving from victory to victory as we check one after another major accomplishment off the list. For the rest of us, disappointments with what we’ve accomplished in the past can haunt us and limit what we can achieve going forward.
It’s important to realize that, as Hyatt says, the past does not equal the future. Certainly, we can use the past to inform the future (more on that next time), but the fact that we didn’t meet one or more goals in the past doesn’t mean that those same goals can’t be met in the future. And we shouldn’t limit ourselves by assuming that obstacles that may have stood in our way in the past will continue to defeat us in the future.
So, if you set out to start a year-round stewardship ministry last year and found that you didn’t have the support you needed; if you offered a stewardship class or two and didn’t have the impact you had hoped for; if you looked to recruit a team of stewardship coaches and didn’t get the response you were looking for – don’t let the disappointments of last year turn into discouragement for this year.
Start with an “abundance” mindset
Elsewhere in this newsletter, we focused on Paul’s statement to the Philippians that God would meet all their needs, in the context of their honoring God through their support of Paul’s ministry. As we look to honor God through the ministry of stewardship, we can count on him to provide everything we need. Support from church leadership; congregational openness to the principles of stewardship; people with hearts to help others in the area of stewardship – all these and more God will provide for us as we seek to aid our congregations in honoring him with our finances.
Bathe decisions, directions, and events in prayer
One of the things God promises to give us is wisdom as we seek his will (James 1:5). It’s possible to jump ahead of his leading, like Moses did when he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating one of the Hebrews. Though he was trying to do the right thing, he was acting in his own wisdom and strength, and his people did not see God working through him. After 40 years in the desert and an encounter with God, Moses was ready to act in God’s name (see Acts 7:23-36).
Similarly, our earnest desire to see God honored through the stewardship of our congregations can push us to make our own plans and act on them, rather than seeking God’s guidance and acting in his wisdom. Prayer – not the “please bless this class” kind of prayer, but earnest seeking of God’s wisdom and leading – is our way to seek and know God’s leading. He’s promised to answer that kind of prayer.
Replace limiting beliefs with liberating truths
Part of what holds us back in accomplishing our goals, says Hyatt, is our tendency to buy into “limiting beliefs”. In a stewardship ministry, some examples might be:
- My church leadership doesn’t understand the importance of a stewardship ministry
- No one in our congregation cares much about stewardship
- Whenever we offer a class, we don’t get much response
As we seek God in prayer and he responds by giving us wisdom, we can trust that he’s overcoming obstacles. We can replace limiting beliefs like the ones above with liberating truths such as:
- God is opening the hearts of my church leadership to the importance of a stewardship ministry
- God is convicting members of our congregation regarding stewardship
- God will bring to our classes those whom he is preparing
These aren’t simply mantras to be repeated; they are prayers to the God who can change people’s hearts and they are affirmations of faith that he is answering those prayers. The more we seek God’s leading and pray for him to be glorified in our stewardship ministries, the more aware he will make us of how he is already working, and the more he will continue to open doors for fruitful ministry.