Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Stewardship of Influence and Affluence, Part 3

In my final post regarding Rick Warren's idea of the Stewardship of Influence and Affluence, I will discuss the results of these huge lessons that Warren learned. After having come into all of this influence and affluence (money) by the unexpected explosion of The Purpose Driven Life, Warren spent time with God and asked him "What big issues do you want me to tackle with these resources?" He wanted to know what problems were so big that government or societies or anything else could not solve because they were so big, and that God wanted him to attack with all of the influence and affluence he could rally. He came up with what he claims are the 5 biggest problems on the planet earth, which he has given his life to overcoming. Here they are, along with my commentary:

1. Spiritual emptiness

This problem is pretty much taken at face value. This is what every "Life giving" church on the face of the planet is looking to correct. The definition of a person who is "Spiritually Empty" is one who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I need to continually ask myself what I am doing, both generally and specifically to solve this problem. Generally, I am both employed by and a member of a local church that is dedicated to doing this very thing. Specifically, I should be helping to point my friends and neighbors to the one who can fill this emptiness on a daily basis. I certainly can do better than I am currently doing.

2. Egocentric Leadership

This, Warren says, is true not only in the world, but in the church as well. He points to this as an increasingly severe problem in our world: leaders who are concerned with advancing themselves and their own agendas rather than the common good and the people they serve. When it comes to pastors, Warren says this has been an unnoticed and very serious problem. "Most pastors think their people exist to serve them," Warren says. "Reality is the other way around." He makes a great point. How am I doing at this? When have I put my own agendas ahead of what God has called me to do in my leadership position? When have I failed to serve because I was too proud? These are battles I need to be reminded to fight daily.

3. Poverty

Warren quoted some statistics, which I can't completely remember, about what percentage of the world lives on less then $3 per day. The results are alarming. We fail to see, here in America, the tight grip that poverty holds on much of the world. The hunger. The homelessness. Unfortunately, we have been trained in America to look down on the poor. We say a person's poverty is his or her fault and assume drugs, alcohol, and a host of other vices are involved. Shame on us for our judgmental attitudes and prejudices. What am I doing to stop poverty in my own community, as well as worldwide?

4. Disease

The majority of deaths in other parts of the world are because of diseases for which we have found the cure, but the medicine is not available to those who are sick. Again, we as Americans have become blind to this. While pharmaceutical companies get rich and count their millions, much of the world dies because they don't have a shot for tetanus, or an antibiotic for dysentery. What am I doing, and what is my church doing, to help stop this from happening?

5. Illiteracy

Half of the world is funtionally illiterate and uneducated. One of the most effective ways a people are kept subdued is by not allowing them literacy. What are we doing to reverse this trend? How can we expect third world children to become adults who will rise up and change things in their countries when illiteracy chokes out success?

In conclusion of this series, I appreciate Rick Warren for not only sharing the lessons he has learned about the stewardship of these important things, but by allowing me to share in the burdens that God laid on his heart. God has used these goals to change my focus and examine what I am doing with my funds, which allow me 2 cars, a nice apartment, a retirement plan, and more amenities than I can mention, and with my influence, which allows me a group of 40 students, 15-20 leaders, and hundreds of adults to communicate with on a weekly basis who value what I have to say. Will I be a good steward of what God has placed in my hand? Will you?

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