Steward Reflections on a Sixty-Year Journey
Lessons from looking back and a challenge for the road ahead
This week I turn sixty-years old. I find these “zero” birthdays are an opportunity to survey the landscape we have traversed on our journey through life. As I look back on the path behind me, I can see places where the road was wide, smooth and straight. I also see places where it was narrow and rocky and steep. As I look more carefully I see places where my footprints strayed off the path, where I took a few falls and finding my way back to the path took pain and struggle. Now at sixty years of age, I find myself standing at a rather significant outcropping from which I can survey all of this, and I am trying to pause long enough to take it in.
As I have considered my journey through life’s various terrains I am struck – amazed actually – how one truth remained consistent through all the bends and slopes. At every point where my heart, my worldview and my attitudes were shaped from the perspective of a faithful steward, the journey was peaceful, joyful and fruitful, regardless of the terrain. The opposite is also true. Those stretches of the journey filled with fear, anxiety and discouragement were the result of a heart compromised by the temptation of playing the owner and grasping for control.
What I found so amazing was the consistency of this truth throughout my life. I guess I should not be so amazed since I have been teaching this for the last fifteen years. It’s one thing to teach it, however, and it’s another to see it so clearly evidenced in your own life.
I must admit I look back with some sense of regret, realizing I have not lived more fully into this truth. I think of sitting at my college graduation, wishing someone would have shared this truth with me at the start of this journey. I look back to my role as a husband and father and wish I had friends and mentors who would’ve held me accountable to always see myself as a steward in these vital roles. I consider the professional positions I have held and wonder how much more fruitful and faithful I would have been if I would have had peers and mentors who continually lifted my eyes above the daily challenges to see God’s bigger picture seen only through the heart of a true steward. From my vantage point at this milestone birthday, there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain; the times of fear, anxiety, discouragement and despair were unnecessary and avoidable.
The question is, how will I now look ahead? Will I allow the Holy Spirit to use this truth to guide me down the path before me? Will the freedom and joy of the faithful steward be my constant companions on the road ahead? I am certain the path ahead will be no less steep. It will have blind corners and rocky terrain. The world is certainly not becoming an easier place to live. In fact, the cultural challenges of the next ten years will likely eclipse anything I have experienced in my life to date. What will this path look like should I be graced to look back on it from the viewpoint of seventy years?
Well, here is the guiding insight I am taking away from this time of reflection. On the journey that lies ahead, it is not the topography of the trail but my life’s testimony to this truth that will determine the extent to which I will experience the ‘life in all its fullness’ Jesus promised.
Perhaps Paul had this in mind when he said,
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
How about you? Are you being weighed down by the bondage of an owner’s heart? Or are you daily being set free as you journey with Christ on the road of the faithful steward?
It doesn’t take a milestone birthday to ask these critical questions. My prayer is that God will reveal to you and me what the abundant life, that journey of freedom and joy really looks like, even amidst the increasing challenges of the world around us. May our paths be strewn with chains we have allowed to fall from our shoulders as Jesus sets us free, day by day. He stands before us today as He does every day with just one question, “Do you want to be free?”
If your answer yes, then welcome to the journey!