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Money & Faith: Are You an Owner or Manager?

  • Kile Baker Contributor
  • Published Sep 07, 2022
Money & Faith: Are You an Owner or Manager?

What would you say is the major difference between an owner and a manager?

If we consider this question in business terms, we probably think that the owner has more of an investment, passion, and desire to see the business exceed at all costs. It envelops their life, time, money, and a myriad of other things. They see the big picture and do what's best for the company overall.

While a manager isn't as invested but still cares about the overall success of what's going on under their control, they may think of the purview of their management as a reflection not only of themselves but of the owner. They often try to do what's best for their area of leadership to do their part in helping the company run well.

When it comes to the basics of our lives, we're both owners and managers, but we must never mistake what we actually own with what we've been asked to manage. Mistaking one for the other can have dire consequences, especially when it comes to two things that Jesus talked quite a lot about - money and faith.

Here are three approaches based on the teachings of Jesus in Luke 16:1-15 of how we manage the tension of ownership and management when it comes to faith and money.

Approach #1: When we own our money, we manage our faith.

When we see our money and our stuff as things we own, we begin to believe we have the right to do with them as we see fit. The problem is, we have brought nothing into this world besides ourselves. Everything good we accumulate over our lives was created or developed because of God's creation. Genesis 1 teaches us this fact - that in the beginning, God created. And the one who creates it all owns it all.

In Jesus' story to His disciples in Luke 16, he tells them of a dishonest manager who ends up being commended by the owner. In the story, the manager represents people, and the owner represents God. From the story's onset, the manager knows he is managing money for the owner. Jesus simply gives his listeners this fact as patently obvious - it all belongs to God!

The problem is, most, if not all of us, don't see this as blatantly obvious. We think our money and our stuff are ours.

We think: "I've worked hard for it, day after day. I've saved, sacrificed, or earned it fairly. I should get to determine how I use my money." And when we think this way, we'll manage our faith accordingly.

We'll say things like, "God doesn't use or need my money; I can do with it as I please." Or "My church is fine. They don't need it either; someone else can give." Or maybe even "I give back in my time, my skills, and by volunteering, so I don't need to give." All of these are faith managing attitudes, not money managing actions. We can easily justify keeping more of what "we've earned" rather than giving back what God has given us with this kind of approach.

Key Questions: What are some areas where you manage your faith around your money? What would happen if you changed your mindset from an owner to a manager in these areas?

Approach #2: When we own our faith, we manage our money.

In this approach, we see our money as a resource that God has given us to honor him. And one of the best ways to do that is to invest, spend, or give it away to have better relationships while we're living out our faith on Earth. In Jesus' story, He says: "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."

Christians are not to use money the way the world does - in order to gratify ourselves and provide a comfortable, fun life as the ultimate goal. Instead, resources like money are to be used as a way to gain friends and to attract people to God through charity and friendship. It's a biblical concept that's quite easy to see in more than a few places in Scripture - that because God has been generous with us, we can be generous towards others.

But it's actually more serious than just being generous; there is a trust factor here. Jesus says in the story that God has entrusted us with resources to use on His behalf, and we must take that incredibly seriously:

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."

Jesus is pretty clear: the amount isn't the most important part; it is our attitude and actions towards what God has given us.

Key Questions: Be honest with yourself. Have you ever used anything in your life that belonged to God (which is everything!) dishonestly? Do you think that has harmed your or someone else's relationship with God? What can you do to make it right?

Approach #3: When we own our faith while managing God's money, we'll receive our own true riches.

While the second approach seems like a good one, it's not the ultimate approach. When you and I think about money, possession, wealth, and the management of it all, we usually think of our lives here and now — however, Jesus always wanted us to look forward to our lives with Him for all eternity, even while we were living our lives on Earth. The two are unavoidably interconnected. Here's how Jesus puts it:

So, who will trust you with true riches if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?

We can take at least two things away from these questions from Jesus.

1. There are earthly riches and eternal riches.

Jesus clearly distinguishes without diminishing the value of either earthly or eternal riches. Both are good, from God, and both can honor God — but one is superior. We must constantly ensure we keep our eyes and hearts on God's eternal riches over the earthly riches we have.

2. Right now, we are managers, but God will someday make us owners.

Right now, we should focus on owning our faith, but one day God will give us ownership over parts of His Kingdom in Heaven. That may be leadership, land, resources, or something else.

Key Questions: What do you hope God will trust you with that He hasn't already? What do you think are the true riches that Jesus mentions? What do you think we'll get to own in God's Kingdom for eternity?

Knowing the difference between being a manager and an owner is huge, especially when it comes to money and our faith. Money should never take place in our hearts of ownership, and we will never be given the opportunity if we always keep it at arm's length by telling ourselves that it belongs to God. It's a resource that God has entrusted us with to be used for His glory and the benefit of others. When we concentrate on being owners of our faith rather than owners of our resources, our hearts, attitudes, and actions are properly directed at the right things: Upwards to God as we look to honor Him; inwards as we look at what is competing for God's space in our heart; and outwards as we are on the lookout for who to bless with God has givens us.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/lovelyday12

Kile Baker is a former Atheist who didn’t plan on becoming a Christian, let alone a Pastor, who now writes to try and make Christianity simple. Kile recently wrote a study guide to help people “look forward to and long for Heaven.” You can get one on Amazon here. He also writes at Kile is the grateful husband to the incredibly talented Rachel, Dad to the energetic London and feisty Emma and Co-Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Northern Nevada. He single handedly keeps local coffee shops in business.

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