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?