Moses is about to embark upon the greatest challenge of his life (Exod 3–4). After 40 years of exile from Egypt, God is calling him out of the land of Midian. Moses offers God every excuse to not accept the task: “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’” (Exod 4:1). God’s response to Moses is important for anyone being called to serve Him.
The Lord asks, “What is that in your hand?” (Exod 4:2). Of course, God knows Moses has a staff in his hand. In this dramatic scene that involves a snake and a bout of leprosy, God uses what Moses already has—a staff, a mere walking stick—to illustrate that when God calls you to serve, He empowers you and your talent to accomplish the task.
As it was with Moses, it is today. When God calls us to serve Him, He asks: What’s in your hand?
As Christians, we are privileged to partner with God. Partnership with God gives us astounding access to the power of the One who calls and sends us. “As the will of man cooperates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.”* When we surrender to God and acknowledge His calling, we become disciples and stewards. Successful stewards rely totally on God’s power and not their own. This is the Principle of Dependence.
Stewardship is not about the use of money or finances. It’s about conversion and revival. God’s stewards acknowledge that God is the owner of everything. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Ps 24:1–2). C. S. Lewis puts it this way: “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.” This is the Principle of Ownership.
Successful daily living requires that we manage ourselves, our time, our health habits, our family, the spiritual gifts given to the church through us, our living and sharing the gospel, our financial resources, our attitude of service above self, etc. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8). We are called as God’s stewards to manage that which belongs to God. While God has graciously entrusted us with the care, development, and enjoyment of everything He owns as His stewards, we are responsible for managing His holdings according to His desires and purposes. This is the Principle of Responsibility.
A steward is one who manages the possessions of another. We are all stewards of the resources, abilities, and opportunities that God has entrusted to our care. While God has entrusted to us the care of His creation, we are not to rule over it as we see fit. Instead we are called to exercise our dominion under the watchful eye of the Creator, managing His creation in accordance with the principles He has established. Like the servants in the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14–30), we will be called to give an account of how we have managed what the Master gave us—including our time, money, abilities, information, wisdom, relationships, and authority. This is the Principle of Accountability.
Like Moses, we are asked the question: What’s in your hand? We are called to be faithful stewards to the One who made us, called us, and walks with us.
By Gaspar Colón
*Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1923), p. 333.
Gaspar Colón is associate pastor of nurture and discipleship at Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Silver Spring, MD.