5 Spiritual Lessons On Stuff Management From A Busted iPod

Photo by DaveOnFlickr

Photo by DaveOnFlickr

My Daughter’s Story

My number two daughter (who shall remain nameless) recently received an iPod 4 touch as a special gift. She has been wanting this particular model for some time now and has been pretty persistent with her asking. She gave me all the special features she wanted, even the color. “Girls have to have a white iPod. You do know this, right daddy?”

A couple of months ago, my daughter’s piano teacher and I made a deal with her: if she could finish out her current piano lesson book within a certain time frame, then her daddy would buy her the iPod 4 she wanted. That’s a pretty sweet deal for her. Well, she did end up finishing her lesson book in record time. So, on a Monday evening, immediately after finishing her piano lesson and accomplishing the goal, daddy and daughter went to one of the big box stores down the street and found the exact model and color she wanted.

As we finished making that purchase, I congratulated my daughter for her accomplishment, and then I proceeded to inform her that as the owner of the new iPod, she was now responsible for it. She needed to handle it carefully and not damage it. And, if it did become damaged, then she would need to figure out a way to pay for the repairs. “Oh yes, daddy. I know. I’ll be careful with it.”

Exactly two weeks to the day of purchase, my daughter came and found me in the house. Her head was hung low, as if she had just lost her best friend. She eked out, “Daddy, I busted my iPod.” Apparently, she had dropped it outside on our concrete driveway, and this drop cracked the glass screen. Obviously, after having my little talk with her exactly two weeks prior, I wasn’t too impressed. As gently and calmly as I could, I reminded her of that conversation. The iPod was now her responsibility. If she wanted the screen fixed, then she would need to figure out a way to earn the money for the repair bill.

I am sticking to my guns on this one, too. There are life lessons to be learned here.

So, the other day, as I was reviewing this whole busted iPod scenario in my mind, I realized that this story has several great stewardship lessons for all of us who are Christ followers.

5 Spiritual Lessons On The Stewardship Of Stuff

  1. God loves us and wants us to have good things. See Matthew 7:11 and 1 Timothy 6:17. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you can relate to my iPod story. You love your kids. You want them to have nice stuff. You occasionally reward them with special, even expensive gifts, simply because you love them. The same is true with God. He is our Heavenly Father. He delights in giving us great things. He is a good God.
  2. God expects us to be good managers of the good things He does give to us. See Luke 16:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 4:2. When I bought my daughter her iPod, I laid out the expectations. I expected her to take care of this expensive gift. Technically, God owns everything. The stuff He does allow us to use, even the good stuff, He has expectations that we will take good care of it for Him. We need to manage His property, well.
  3. God is disappointed when we mismanage His gifts. See Matthew 18:32-34. I was extremely disappointed when my daughter came back to me with the report on the busted iPod screen. As a dad of two preteens, though, I do understand that accidents happen. Our Heavenly Father delights in good stewardship. He is disappointed in us in times of mismanagement. He also understands, though, that we are sinful human beings, and that we will mess up from time to time because we are imperfect.
  4. There are consequences for our mismanagement. See Matthew 25:26-30. When I first bought my daughter the iPod, I laid out the expectations and consequences from the very beginning: “ … you are now responsible for it. You need to handle it carefully and not damage it. And, if it does become damaged, then you will need to figure out a way to pay for the repairs.” After she damaged the iPod, I gently reminded her of that conversation. There are natural consequences to mismanagement, even so-called accidents. So too in life, there will be natural consequences for our mismanagement of God’s stuff.
  5. God extends grace and forgiveness in spite of our failures. See Romans 9:15-16. Did a broken iPod change my relationship with my daughter? No way! I still love her to pieces. She is my daughter and always will be. Does the same level of trust exist between us? Not so much. The same is true of God. If we are truly His children, then He loves us no matter what, even when we screw things up. Does the same level of trust exist for God? No, and I would say there’s an excellent chance that He will test us, again. He will check to see if we have learned our lesson in managing His stuff, well.

And then, this entire 5-point cycle will begin, once again …

Questions: Have you been a good manager of all the good stuff God has given you: your family, financial resources, cars, homes, talents, and special abilities? If not, why not? Have you suffered any consequences for that mismanagement? Will you be able to pass your next management test? Have you finally learned your lesson?