"Imperfect Stewardship" by Rev. Micah James

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. The he said, “ I will not let you go unless you bless me.” – Genesis 32:24-26

In some ways the story of Jacob’s wrestling and wounding is the story of my call to ministry and ultimately the story of my view of the world. Jacob didn’t invite the confrontation, nor did he truly prosper. Jacob was left wounded and blessed by the encounter. Such is the story of my call to be a faithful steward.

When I was young, I always wondered why things weren’t done more efficiently or effectively. The waste of resources or talent would frustrate me. I distinctly remember a basketball season, one where I ran in the middle of the pack, looking at the most talented and attitude-filled girl on our team and saying to my Dad, “if I had her talent and my passion, things could happen.”

As I have gone through my life, I have always had that “go get it done” attitude. Do I always do things perfectly, no? Have I had passion, yes! Do I honor my God in my trying, absolutely! God made me with many gifts, talents, and skills. I do my best to use them to bring glory to God and God’s kingdom each and every day. The goal is not to win every race or be perfect in every attempt, but to honor God in our every day, even when we don’t get it quite right.

My call to preach and teach stewardship is both my blessing and my wound. How can someone who is not the best steward teach about stewardship? We have all heard the pastoral advice, “Don’t preach about stewardship until you can do it yourself.” Well, in my case (and I am betting in many of yours), with that as a guiding principle we would never get to talk about stewardship. At least stewardship as it has traditionally been defined, as giving of your financial resources.

I knew early in life my call to ministry would be helping congregations, community groups, leadership cohorts and various other groups look at the variety of gifts - financial, talent, time, etc. - in their midst and find a way to use those gifts to serve God the best way possible. At the very same time, I have struggled to be that faithful comprehensive steward in which I speak and teach. I give, yes. I spend a lot of time learning how to do it well, but do I do it perfectly, no.

In some ways this has led me to one of my strongest theological and practical assertions - if you are incredibly passionate about something then it is probably the place where you also experience the most brokenness and challenge. Maybe all of this is because in the midst of our most passionate places, we are still fractured people in need of grace.

Thank God grace is freely given. And because of this grace, I do my best to respond with all I have: my money, my time, my resources, my love, my talents, my care, my all to the God who first loved me. I may not be perfect, but God, who loves me in spite of my imperfect stewardship, certainly is. Thanks be to God.

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