In many ways I was a pretty normal little girl. I loved horses more than just about anything, but I also went through a Barbie phase. I had a few of those impossibly perfect dolls. They had a few changes of clothes and other accessories. I was pretty into them even though their legs popped off every time I tried to make them ride my toy horses.
I remember one January when many of my friends at school were also into Barbies. They would bring them to school, play with them, and swap clothes and accessories. I didn’t really join in.
It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to join them. It was more that I knew I had been given these toys. They were mine. Sure I would share them in play, but they were going home with me at the end of the day.
At that point I didn’t really think about all the hours my parents worked or the things they gave up so I could have my toys. Instead I reasoned they were gifts from God and I needed to be responsible with them. If God wanted me to have the outfit someone wanted to exchange for one of my Barbie’s ensembles, he would have given it to me.
(This where I might not have been so normal.)
Looking back on it, I’m sure this was my 9 year old version of stewardship. I had the idea I needed to take care of what God gave me. He didn’t give me the other stuff; I didn’t need it.
My life has gotten a bit more crowded and complicated since 4th grade, but I think I generally live by that principle. Generally. Of course I walk through stores and think, “Oh that would be lovely to have,” or “I think that would look good on me.” I’m not immune from wanting, but I am generally disciplined enough to tell myself, “No.”
The “No” doesn’t come as easily when I see things for my family or other people I love and want to bless with a gift, but I know a few things. The number of presents under the tree does not equal my love for someone. My funds are limited. Stewardship didn’t end in 4th grade. My money is on loan from God.
God’s work is going on all over the world. Much of that work—be it in my town or somewhere else in the world–is underfunded. I can’t participate in it all, but I can join in a few places. I believe I have a responsibility to financially participate in what God is doing.
In some ways it’s more difficult at Christmas. I have this money that has been entrusted to me and I count on using part of it to buy things for those I love. I want to use it to take advantage of great sales and stock up on things I’ll need throughout 2011. Sadly, using it to help God’s work thrive isn’t always my first thought as I wish it was.
I definitely use my time and talents to serve him. This isn’t an issue for me. It’s when I need to honor him with my treasure that it gets a little sticky. This year I’ve made some conscious choices not to go overboard so I can give more treasure at the end of the year.
What about you? How are you honoring God at the end of this year?
If you’re not sure where some of your treasure could be put to good use outside of your local church, I have a suggestion. (Gulp). I’m part of a ministry that depends on people being good stewards of their time, talent, and treasure. If you would like to contribute your treasure to WorldVenture and specifically my account, here are some ways you can do it.
1. Send a check or money order to WorldVenture, 1501 W. Mineral Ave., Littleton, CO 80122. If you want your gift put towards my ministry, please include a note that says it’s for the ministry of Sheryl O’Bryan. My account number is 952.
2. You can go to WorldVenture’s website (in case you want to look around some) and the Give Now page. Once you’re on the Give Now page, go to the first drop down menu—it has missionary in the box before you click on anything—and look for my name. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.
If you’re making a special end of the year gift, you can write a note in the memo . . . or not. If you think you’d like to make this ministry to Third Culture Kids and their families a regular part of your giving throughout the year (monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, annually) please say that in the memo. This lets me know how to plan for the year.
As far as I can figure out right now, I’m lacking about $875 each month in committed support. It seems like a pretty big number, but I know in God’s economy there are much bigger ones. If you want to be part of my team, I’d treasure your participation.
photo courtesy of Aloha Orangeneko