Time, talent, treasure

Literature on stewardship traditionally uses three categories: Time, talent, and treasure. This sums up the gifts I have been given by God, and which I – as a steward – am to “manage” for God’s purposes.

These categories can seem somewhat artificial. For example, it is not always easy to distinguish between giving my time and giving my talent. Maybe more contemporary terms would help. For some, it might be easier simply to speak of “skills” and “money”.

  • Skills: I may or may not have highly specialized skills, but we all have skills. If I listed mine, I might surprise myself. Many of the things on the list would seem simple and normal. But the truth is, we all have many skills which we use just to get through the day.
  • Money: Whereas “treasure” may evoke thought of riches, “money” is something that is just plain part of life. I speak of my wages as “earning a living.”

Stewardship poses the question: How do I make use of my skills and my money? In other words, do I handle these as gifts belonging to God, which I am meant to manage on God’s behalf and for God’s purposes? Or do I consider my sills and my money as belonging to me – possessions which I occasionally bestow on others?

That is the question, and how we answer the question makes all the difference in the world. And the difference, by the way, deals not so much with the effects upon others, but with the effects upon me.

That is the key to stewardship. Not the need of others to receive. But my need to give.