Big Word Breakdown: What does “stewardship” mean?

Image © Levranii

Image © Levranii

Today is tax day and everyone is thinking about money. What does God say about money? What is “steward” and what does that have to do with me? Let’s take a look.

“Theology for Kids.” What does that mean?

Theology is simply a big word meaning “the study of God.” You don’t have to wait until you are a teenager or an adult to start learning about God.

Pastors and others who have read a lot of books sometimes like to use fancy words when they talk about God-stuff. Once a month in our “Big Word Breakdown,” we’ll take one of those hard words and explain it for kids (and adults) in plain English.

What does “stewardship” mean?

The word stewardship is made up of a root word (steward) and a suffix (-ship).The suffix “-ship” means:

  1. to have the character traits of the root word
  2. to have the job of the root word
  3. to have the skill of the root word
  4. or something similar to the meanings above

For example, penmanship is the skill of writing with a pen. A relationship is the job of relating to another person, like a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Stewardship is the job of being a steward.

Image © fcarucci

Image © fcarucci

A steward is someone who takes care of someone else’s things. We might also call this person a manager. They don’t actually own anything they are responsible for, but they are taking care of it for someone else. What are some of your most prize possessions? Let’s pretend your family was going away all summer long and you had to leave those things behind. Who would you get to protect and take care of your stuff? Why would you choose that person? Which of the following character traits would you look for in your steward, the person you asked to take care of your stuff? Why would you want or not want each trait in that person?

  • Trustworthy?
  • Honest?
  • Selfish?
  • Takes care of their own things?
  • Loses stuff all the time?
  • Lies to you?

I would want a steward I could trust to take care of my stuff, wouldn’t you? Otherwise they might steal it and tell me they lost it. That would make me very sad.

How can I be a steward?

Guess what? You already are one. God made everything, even the supplies we use to make things not usually found in nature. He also gave us minds to think, as well as food, water, air, and everything else we need to live.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:3 (NIV)

That means God is the one who really owns everything. He asked humans to take care of the things He made (Genesis 1:28-30). He continues to trust us to take care of the things He gives us. He gives us money, our health, the people around us, talents, spiritual gifts, and lots of other things. The question is: how can you be a better steward, caretaker, of what God has given you?

Whoever can be trusted with small things can also be trusted with big things. Whoever is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in big things too. If you cannot be trusted with worldly riches, you will not be trusted with the true riches. And if you cannot be trusted with the things that belong to someone else, you will not be given anything of your own.

Luke 16:10-12 (ERV)

God wants us to use the money, talents, and resources He gives us well. He gives them to us to we can be about God’s work. He’s given you a special job to do, even now as a kid. How can you use your talents, money, and things to do God’s work?

Everyone must make up his own mind as to how much he should give. Don’t force anyone to give more than he really wants to, for cheerful givers are the ones God prizes.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (TLB)

What does that have to do with tithing?

Tithing is a way to help us remember that all our stuff is really God’s stuff. It’s also a way to say thank you to God for all that He gives us.

A tithe is a tenth. When you give a tithe, you give a tenth. More or less than a tenth is just called an offering or a gift.

Most people today are paid with money. If that is you, you would tithe with money. Let’s say you got $1 allowance each week for helping around the house and such. If you tithed that dollar, you would need to take one part out of ten to give back to God. Count how much money I have below.

Image © gbcimages

Image © gbcimages

Can you break that money into ten equal pieces? How much would one of those ten pieces be? That is what I would tithe back to God. If you ever have trouble, you can always ask an adult or older sibling to help you.

How do you give your tithe to God? You don’t put it on a balloon and hope it makes it up into heaven. God gave us a system to give money back to Him. He told us to give the money to the church so it can be used to do God’s work.

“People should not steal things from God, but you stole things from me. You say, ‘What did we steal from you?’ You should have given me one-tenth of your things. You should have given me special gifts. In this way your whole nation has stolen things from me, so bad things are happening to you.” The Lord All-Powerful says, “Try this test. Bring one-tenth of your things to me. Put them in the treasury. Bring food to my house. Test me! If you do these things, I will surely bless you. Good things will come to you like rain falling from the sky. You will have more than enough of everything.”

Malachi 3:8-10 (ERV)

Thank God for giving you so many good things. Ask Him to help you be a better steward of the things He’s given you.

What are some things you do to help yourself remember that your stuff is really God’s stuff? Tell us about it in the comments below.

NOTE: The April 15 “Along the Road” e-newsletter will include a fun activity to teach kids more about tithing. Be sure to sign up using the form on this page to receive your copy.

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