Challenges to Stewardship:
Distractions; Aberrations And Shrewdness
Introduction to Part 2:
Like in any other area of life, stewardship has its challenges, especially so when we want to glorify God with our life. The purpose of this part is to outline and briefly discuss these challenges. This will not be exhaustive but will suffice to serve two purposes: i) identification and ii) management of the challenges. Though not all the challenges are brought on board, the reader should treat this as an eye-opener and direction-pointer.
There are some stewards who may not know that what they are doing amounts to losing to the challenges. Others may find ‘genuine’ excuses to compromise some principles of stewardship. It is important to note that the Lord Jesus takes no excuses as far as doing the right thing is concerned.
I must emphasize that there are many things that would fall into place if we get it right in stewardship. May the challenges discussed in this part help the reader to be alert and able to navigate through them.
MISAPPROPRIATION AND ABUSE OF AUTHORITY:
Using Things For What They Were Not Initially Meant
“And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf …”—Exodus 32:3-4.
Intervening opportunities are not always better alternatives; they are most likely sly distractions sent to test your integrity and resolve. Remaining focused keeps you on the course of the original plan and the set goals.
A Noble Venture to Justify Misappropriation
There are always intervening opportunities majority of which divert the focus from the original goals. Although some intervening opportunities can be genuinely better alternatives, letting go the original plan can invalidate the foundation and inspiration that birthed a project. One needs to be acutely discerning in order to safely clutch on an intervening opportunity. In the absence of this, it is safe to remain focused, the lure of the intervening opportunity notwithstanding.
The power of an intervening opportunity lies in its promises of quick fixes and easy accesses. It provides shortcuts and insists on revising and reneging on the initial priorities and goals. In this way, intervening opportunities relax character-testing rules; cheapen the price for integrity and elevate the pursuit of self-interests.
In its wider meaning, misappropriation can range from diverting resources into other uses (if mild) to utter fraud (if gross). More often, the term misappropriation is used to refer to resources that are diverted to purposes they were not initially meant for.
In its mild form, many people don’t see misappropriation as a problem. Part of the reason for which this is likely to go unchallenged is because there are euphemisms that mitigate the practice. It can positively be referred to as the reallocation of resources; accommodation of changes; emergency response; flexibility in tackling impromptus, etc. The tricky part is that all these may not be outrightly wrong. They must therefore be thoroughly interrogated to establish whether they are snares or positive options.
There was a church that needed instruments sooner rather than later. They organised for fundraising. The members, not being endowed, were unable to raise the required amount of money amongst themselves. It made the church ask for help from beyond its membership. It worked. All the money required was raised within the set time.
Things changed after they got all the money they wanted. The church realised that souls were perishing somewhere. The instruments could wait. They organised a mission and used the money that was originally intended for buying the instruments. There you have it—misappropriation. But look at it again! What can be as noble as using money for missions to win souls?
After the mission, they realised that they still needed the instruments as a matter of urgency. The church members may have ‘understood’ that it was a good idea to prioritise the souls at the expense of the instruments. The church organised a fundraising once more but like the first time, they were unable to raise all the money needed for the instruments. They once again contacted brethren far and wide. Some of the people who had contributed in the earlier campaign were overheard asking: What happened to the money we had already collected? The idea that the money was used for mission only brought more perplexing question: Is there a time when there will be no souls perishing somewhere so that the church could buy the instruments with a clear conscience?
Though some of the misappropriations can be a result of a short-term plan, others are spontaneous. There was a case where a man gave some money to his friend and brother in the Lord for a business project. The friend diverted some of the money marked for the business project into buying Bibles. He then distributed the Bibles to people on the streets. What a noble venture, you could say! But was it? At one time again, the same man was given money to deposit into an account. But he didn’t. When his friend called to ask if he deposited the money, he answered: “I used my discretion as a minister and gave the money to some of your relatives who were having some financial challenges.”