Being a Good Steward Does Not Mean Being Cheap


In the Christian world, we’ve all probably heard the term, “being a good steward.”

In most cases, we are referring to how we handle our finances.

We say things like, “He’s not being a good steward of God’s money by purchasing that brand new car, he should’ve bought a used one.”

Or, “I saved the church $200 by purchasing tables for the lobby from the thrift store, ya know, just trying to be a good steward…”

Well, let’s take a minute and check out the definition of a “steward.” 

In the original text, the definition reads:

  • The management of a household or of household affairs
  • Specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of other’s property
  • The office of a manager or overseer, stewardship
  • Administration, dispensation

We believe that as Christians, one of our main duties is to be a good steward, or manager, of what God has entrusted us with.

This includes things such as: Time, money, possessions, family, friends, our health, and our church.

And this is true. I think we all would agree  that we should manage, oversee, administer, and dispense properly, what has been entrusted to us by God.

But here is where I was missing it: (in regards to money)

This was MY definition of a good steward:

  • Spend as little money as possible.  Stretttttcchhh your money as far as you can.
  • Get the cheaper thing, buy the off-brand. (Because spending as little as possible was the real goal)
  • Try to be a hard negotiator to get the price down of EVERYTHING.
  • Hold on to as much money as possible, keep your savings account from being depleted.
  • Ultimately being a tightwad = good stewardship,

Sound familiar? This was me for YEARS.

Now, you may look at that list and think, “What’s wrong with that?” Don’t those things make you a good steward?

“After all, we need to stretch God’s money as far as possible.”

-Do we?! Who told us that? Where did that thought process even come from?

Let’s examine our thinking here:

If I’m being a “good steward” and buy the off-brand Oreos to save money (which taste horrible by the way) will I then use the 70 cents I saved to advance His Kingdom?

Am I being a good steward if I go and collect old boxes of used crayons from a local school and donate it to our children’s church so that they don’t have to purchase new crayons this year?

Somewhere along the line, we picked up this mindset that God needs us to help Him “save money.”

As though God has some sort of financial shortage, and we need to cut corners to save Him money.

Contrary to popular belief my friends, this is NOT being a good steward.

As we read in the definition of a steward, we are to operate in the office of a manager and an overseer.

Have you ever had a management position at a job?

As a manager, your role is to carry out the orders, assignments, and desires of the boss above you.

In essence, if you’re a good manager, you will begin to know your boss inside and out, you’ll know him so well that you’ll begin to act, think, and speak like he does.

You’ll begin to take on his viewpoints, and begin to do business in the way that he himself would do business.

He can send you out and trust that you’ll represent him and manage his affairs in the same manner he would.

Let me give you an example:

I once worked for a small company that built custom homes.

The owner of the company was the person directly above me in the chain of command.

There would be times when he would give me the company credit card and have me go shop for things for the office, one of the homes for sale, sometimes even his own personal house.

But being around him long enough, getting to know him and know his personality and mindset, I learned one very important thing when it comes to working for him:

Don’t buy the cheap stuff!

This guy HATED when you bought the off brand, or a lesser quality product because it was cheaper.

This man came from poverty and had since become quite successful (He was a Christian) and truly believed that God wants us to have the best of the best.

He believed that poverty and cheapness was not from God, so he didn’t want anything to do with it.

He drilled it into our heads to buy the best quality items and to not make it our mission to just find the cheaper things.

Example 2:

I worked for another man, with a MUCH larger company, and it was more financially successful than the custom home company.

But the owner of this company was different.

He often went for the cheaper thing.

If a purchase needed to be made, he would pick the least expensive one. (Even if it meant a lesser quality product)

When he would flip me the credit card, I began to take on HIS mindset when it came to shopping for things the company needed.

There may be a printer that cost $500 more, was guaranteed to last 10 years, came with free service warranties and had all the bells and whistles to make our jobs easier, faster, and more efficient.

But he would prefer I buy the one that costs less, does the bare minimum and comes with no warranties.

Because it saved the company money.

Interesting fact: BOTH owners were strong Christians, both had a lot of money, but both had completely different viewpoints on spending money.

What I want you to see is this: being a good steward looked different depending on who I was working for.

If I would have bought the cheap printer while working for the first guy, he would have chewed my head off for having a poverty mentality. (He actually did that once, and I’ll be forever grateful for that lesson!)

But if I would have bought the BEST (but most expensive) printer for the second guy, I would have gotten reprimanded for “wasting money” on stuff we don’t need.

Here’s my point:

A good steward knows his master’s heart, his desires, and his ways of operating. Then manages his affairs accordingly.

One more quick illustration to hammer this point home:

Your church needs new carpet, and you’re in charge of the project.

You go and get some prices and learn it’s going to end up costing the church $25,000 to redo the whole place in nice, long lasting, high traffic carpet, guaranteed for 20 years.

You think to your limited self, “Man, that’s a lot of money, I bet I can find something cheaper.”

You get on craigslist and make some phone calls, and you find another church who just replaced their carpets and said you could have their old stuff.

You go see it and it looks to be in good shape! “Wow, this is great, they said they’d sell it me for only $2,000! I just saved the church $23,000, I’m such a great steward !”

Are you?!

Did God tell you to get on craigslist and purchase old, used, nappy blue carpet?

Were you acting, thinking and taking on the personality of your Master and when you managed this project?

Here’s the bottom line:

If God told you to put the $25,000 carpet in His church, then a good steward goes and puts in the 25k dollar carpet.

God does not need you to save Him money.

He needs you to effectively manage the affairs that He has entrusted you with.

He’s not cheap, He’s not broke and He’s not running out.

Get to know your Lord, your Master. Dive into His word and learn His nature. Watch and see how He operates and conducts His business.

Then take on His way of operating.

Reread Matthew 25:14-30 where it tells the parable of the talents.  This scripture is often preached when talking about stewardship.

Three men were given money according to their abilities and entrusted to do something with it before their master returns.

Have you ever noticed the only servant that got in trouble was the one who tried to “save” his master’s money? He was called, wicked, lazy, and fearful.

I want you to hear me loud and clear, a good steward, a faithful servant, inquires of the Lord, gets his marching orders, and then carries them out.

The financial cost does not factor in.

Here’s what to read next: God Meets My Needs, But What About My Wants?  AND: 4 Reasons we Should Never Move for Money

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