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Good and Faithful Stewards

Today we come to the conclusion of our “Visual Theology” message series. We’ve been following the outline of Tim Challies and Josh Byers in their book “Visual Theology” as they look at the four basic pursuits of the Christian life.

These four things should be a part of every Christian’s experience.

  1. We should strive to grow close to Christ.
  2. We should strive to understand the work of Christ.
  3. We should strive to become like Christ.
  4. We should strive to live for Christ.

And I trust that over these past few months, you’ve been able to get a fresh understanding of why and how we do these things and hopefully, you’ve been able to pick up some real practical ways for how to live out those things out in your own life.

But we’re not quite done yet. We’ve got one more topic to tackle as we complete our final section of how we live for Christ.

And so I’d like to introduce one more new word to your vocabulary today: the word is stewardship

Now most of you will have heard of stewards or stewardess – they are the kind folks who take care of you in an airplane while you’re flying somewhere. They bring you drinks and snacks and tell you how to put on your seatbelt and how to exit in an emergency, and all of that good stuff.

But that picture of an airline steward doesn’t really give you an accurate understanding of what stewardship is all about. Stewardship is more than just being a waiter or someone’s personal butler. So to help us understand stewardship, I want to read for you a parable from Matthew 25.

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The Measure of Success

I think it’s fair to say that everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to be a success. That’s hardwired into us. No one wants to be a loser. No body wants to be a failure. We all want to succeed. We want to do well.

And we see this in every aspect of our lives. When we play sports, we want to take home the championship trophy – not just the participation award. When we play board games or video games, we say we play for the fun, but still, we want to win. In war – no one goes into battle being okay with losing –  if we’re going to fight, we want the victory.

We want to succeed in our careers. We want to have succeed in raising our kids. We want to succeed at being a good husband or a good wife.

We even want to succeed as Christians. Nobody wants to be a lousy Christian – we want to be a successful one. We want our church to succeed. Clearly there is something hardwired into us that drives us towards success.

But the challenge in all areas of life is knowing what determines success. We have to know what the objective is.

Because if you’re a football player, successfully running the ball to the end of the field is a measure of success – but if you’re a golfer, it’s not. You’ll probably get kicked off the course if you’re out there tackling the other golfers, stealing their ball and running it down the fairway.

We have to know our objective – We have to know what constitutes success in whatever it is that we’re doing. If we don’t know what the objective is – if we don’t know what determines success – then we’re gonna have a really hard time being successful.

As a church, we need to know what determines our success. Are we successful because we’ve outgrown this space and need to move to a larger space over at the Hall? Is that success? If we get to the point where we need to build our own building, is that success? If we get to the point where we offer more programs and have greater attendance and have more baptisms and have a bigger facility than Crossroads – is that success? Or are we measuring success the wrong way?

We need to know what determines our success – or we may spend all of our time and our energy and all our effort trying to be really good…  at the wrong thing!

And this totally applies to each one of us personally. We already mentioned how every one us wants to be successful in life. We want to be a successful in our work, we want our marriage to be a success, we want to raise our kids successfully and I think, as followers of Christ, more than anything, we want to be a success in that. At the end of our lives as we stand before God, I think each one of us wants to hear God say “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

So it’s really important that we know what determines our success. To use our golf analogy, I don’t want to spend my life running running the golfball down the fairway, weaving around and dodging the other golfers like a football player (and being really good at that) – when all along I should’ve been practicing my putt. I want to know and do what it takes to be successful in God’s eyes – because that’s what really counts.

So today, I want to do two things.

Since this is the last service in this building before we move over to the Hall, I want to talk a little bit about how we can have success as a church. How will we know if we are being successful? Are we successful just to keep existing? Are we successful when we reach a certain number in attendance or dollars or sq footage or new believers? What is the measurement of success for our church?

And then, also being New’s Years Day, I want to talk about what it means for you to have success in  this new year. What do you need to do in order to be successful in 2017? Were you successful last year? What’s the measurement of your success?

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