Life Insights: Stewardship of Stuff

Life Insights: Stewardship of Stuff
I mentioned recently how our families (we have two families living under the same roof) have moved from a large home to a more modest home.  We went from having two kitchens, separate entrances, living quarters to sharing a normal home with one kitchen, etc.  I’m glad we made the move.
We are still in the process of settling in as we finally put blinds up on the master bathroom window today!  That sheet held up by the masking tape was not what I was used to in our old home.
One of the key things I learned was that I was not as discerning with stewardship as I had thought, or at least I learned a new dimension of stewardship. I had always thought about stewardship as – as long as I do not have to pay a monthly storage cost, I am okay.  Certainly in some situations, outside storage is necessary.  But, from my perspective, the “stuff” that was stored at storage facilities would be getting less valuable with each monthly rental fee expended.
What I did not consider was the time needed to maintain or sustain the stuff.  I must have rationalized that away.  It does not own me, I thought, because I’m not washing and waxing it.  I am not paying a monthly fee to keep it in the attic or on the shelf.  I am not worried about it getting dusty, because it is not valuable anyway and I am not all that concerned about it.  However, those are only some of the ways that stuff can control you more than you control it.
First, you have to provide space to store the stuff.  Maybe you cover your attic floor with the stuff or you build shelves for it, but either way, it takes up space and you PAID for that space.
Secondly, you end up moving it around.  You may rearrange your stuff, because you acquired more stuff either through a good deal, or my favorite – a free deal.  Then you spend the TIME to think through how to organize the stuff, when you could be discipling another soul to the Lord.
Thirdly, you buy bins to organize like articles.  Yes it happens with efficient people that stuff needs to be grouped according to like objects and therefore plastic bins must be purchased and labeled. So now you spend TIME and money, because you PAID for stuff to store your stuff.
Fourthly, you have to remember where you put the stuff.  I despise it when I have to spend 15 minutes looking for my keys, let alone look for something I have stored.  The problem in my old house was that the stuff could be in the garage, the garage attic, in the mechanical room in the basement, in the master closet or the office closet upstairs. Whoa! Timeout! I do not like to waste TIME looking for stuff.  That is a cost I knew each time I incurred, but not as far as the price of the object.
Fifthly, the value of the object is worth about 10% of the cost paid when new.  We have had a few garage sales over the last two years and I learned the value of my stuff – only what someone else is willing to pay – not much!  Some people are not willing to pay a dime for what I paid seven dollars on a trip to Europe! Ha! What is the VALUE in the eye of the beholder?
Sixthly, stuff does not determine my value.  When I realized that the stuff I was storing, because I thought I would need it sometime, was of no value to others, I realized I must be attached to the wrong things or unaware of how much TIME I was using to maintain my stuff.  I realized that my time helping others was worth far more than the time I expended to maintain my stuff.  My value was based on who I am in Christ, not whether I was prepared or not because I had a widget I “might” use at some time in the future.
Seventhly, because you “CAN” store something, does not mean you should.  Just because “out of sight, out of mind” could work, eventually payday (the day you have to deal with the object at moving time or selling time) proves the value of the object – again, not much.  I was not paying a monthly rental fee, but the TIME factor was causing the stuff to become less valuable.  It weighed me down.
Eighthly, when you move, you have to move the stuff.  You have to buy boxes or acquire them somehow and that is a cost of TIME or MONEY to box up the stuff, tape it shut, label it and then figure out a new place to store the stuff.  You need to have gracious friends who are polite enough to not ask, “What’s all this stuff we’re moving???” or you just suffer on your own and move it yourself. 
Ninthly, if you store it, you can’t bless others with it.  How many extra screws do I need to store, just so I “might” have a screw or nut or whatever.  I have rationalized victoriously when I needed a screw or nut and I just happened to have it in the bin of drawers.  It’s just like the golfer who gets one good shot on the 17th hole that makes him think, “I could hit a shot like that again!” and it keeps him going back to the links.  When I have gone out to the garage and found the needed nut, I proclaim, “I have the nut I needed.  Wow, how great I am to have had that stuff!”
Tenthly, the more stuff I have on earth, the less I am likely to think of heaven.  Paul said,

·         20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
·         21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:20-21)
What do you need where you are in that station of life and how should you bless others with the stuff you don’t need?


Life Insights: Stewardship of Space

Life Insights: Stewardship of Space

Recently, our family just went through a move from one house to another.  Our situation is a little different than most in that there are two families under the same roof.  Six years ago, after my father-in-law died and I learned that my mother-in-law preferred the warmth of south Texas, rather than the unpredictable weather of Indiana.  So, I asked my son-in-law if he and my daughter would like to move into our lower level, provided I finished it off. 
They were doing well financially and were not in need of any assistance.  At the time, I was traveling quite a bit with the National Guard visiting all fifty state headquarters and the mobilization sites, as the National Guard provided 45% of the mobilization force.  It seemed like good stewardship to have our daughter and son-in-law in our home when my wife spent so much time alone in my absence.
After thinking about the option for almost three months, he said, “Sure!”  So, we finished off the lower level, which provided totally separate living quarters, including bedrooms, living areas, kitchens and entrances (the old home had a walkout lower level).  They moved in and three children later, everyone appreciated the relationships, the spiritual accountability and the support to each other.  The house provided plenty of space to store anything we weren’t using.
Recently we decided it was time to move into a different house.  We were interested in having our whole extended family stay with us and our son-in-law and family decided they wanted to stay with us also.  However, I didn’t realize how much could be stored in one house. I had not torn down a barn to build a bigger barn to store things (our Homeowner’s Association did not allow barns or sheds), as Jesus warned in a parable, “So he said,`I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.” (Luke 12:18)  I had no barn, but the design allowed for room that I had not purposely planned.
There was mega-space built into the house that I did not believe existed.  To me it was just a house.  Fortunately, we have been trying to extract things over the previous couple years, so we were saved by several garage sales and Youth Rummage Sales at church.  Yet I found out the size of the house when we moved.  Just because you “can” store something, should you?
So we moved into a new home designed for a single family.  That meant we’d only have one kitchen and one place to store things – the basement.  Moving day came and went and we looked for the floor for several weeks.
The new house required several adjustments. The garage is barely big enough to fit the cars in, and my passenger has to wait until I pull out in order to get in. We needed to add kitchen cabinets, because what came with the house was less than half the size of “one” of the kitchens in the old house.  There is no attic space to store anything above the house or the garage, which the old home had; everything had to go to the basement.  But we love it just the way it is.  It will help us continue to refine “what we really need to store.”
The first three weeks were like a rubrics cube trying to decide where and how to store things.  We didn’t want to move something more than once, but if one thing was moved, that meant other things had to move.  Trying to find realistic space for two families in one house takes thoughtfulness, planning and several attempts. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we could see the light down the tracks and we know it is not another train.
            There are many books on what you should keep or what you should store.  There are many people with great discernment.  In all the process, I sure have learned how gracious and merciful the Lord is in all areas of life.  I continue to learn how helpful family and friends are in time of need.  For me, the key is fixing my eyes on Jesus, rather than the things of this world:
·         Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
·         2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2)
My prayer for you is that you can learn the simple way from God’s Word, rather than the way I’ve had to learn freedom in Christ.