Since starting at Valley Christian Junior High, I’ve been slowly working through the differences and similarities of stewardship and philanthropy. Neither comes all that naturally, of course, at least not for me. My natural tendency is to want, to get, to keep. Rarely do I naturally tend toward giving, stewarding, or sacrifice.
The biggest differences between stewardship and philanthropy are their assumptions of ownership and responsibility.
- Philanthropy is the practice of giving one’s own possessions, time, or gifts for the betterment of humanity.
- Stewardship – by contrast – is the act of administering someone else’s possessions, time, or gifts, dutifully.
The differences sounds slight, but are enormous. While philanthropists are generous by choice, stewards are generous by duty.
As a Christian, I am called to stewardship. In Psalm 24, we read that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” While we read of a 10% tithe in the Old Testament, the New Testament speaks of folks giving half or more of their possessions (Luke 3:11, Luke 19:8). Jesus even tells the rich young man to give 100% (Matthew 19:21), and says in Luke, “Therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
This is a tough subject, and one I’ve not mastered… one I won’t master. If everything I have is God’s, how can I properly steward what He has given me?
As you think about your year-end giving – whether to VCJH or somewhere else – I encourage you to wrestle with this. And as a fellow steward, please be in prayer for Valley Christian, that we would give and steward as God calls us.
Troy A. Thelen ’03