When talking about stewardship we’re talking about one who is an overseer of things entrusted to him. A steward has a master who has called him and has given him “talents” to use for the master’s glory. The question of “Who is my master” is the ultimate question that every human must come to terms with, and every human does have a master: you are a slave of someone.
The question of master is the ultimate question, however, there are certain skills that all stewards must know or at least have a basic understanding of and if you don’t have that understanding, your ability to steward and allocate resources will only be second best: nobody remembers 2nd place.
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Proverbs tells us that we are to, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds” (Prov 27:23). Shepherds were to be aware of the state of their sheep that the owner entrusted them with. They were to know how many sheep they have, who is currently pregnant, how many were born this year, how many are currently sick, how many died, and where each sheep is located. On top of that, they were to know what they could get in exchange for their sheep or the sheep’s milk.
Riches Do Not Last
Moreover, the reason we are to know the condition of our flocks is because, “riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?” (Prov 27:24). By not being aware of the state of our wealth, it will diminish and get squandered. Riches, by nature, do not last forever. Riches, by nature, run away from you. Riches, without you doing anything, continue to go down the drain.
Another reason to know well the state of your flock, is because grass disappears, vegetation is gathered, and winter arrives. When that happens, “the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field.” (Prov 27:26) When winter comes, when your crop catches fire, your lambs will provide food, clothing, and resources to start over. If you don’t know the state of your flock and winter arrives, you will be stuck. “There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls.” (Prov 27:27) You do care about your wife and daughters don’t you? You’re family is important to you isn’t it?
Now let’s move from a theoretical, allegorical, metaphorical talk and move to practical day-to-day talk. The skill I’m talking about is accounting, bookkeeping, money management, and capital allocation. At the core however, you want to learn basic bookkeeping skills-double entry, to be exact. The keeping of good records will take you far in life. The idea is to start keeping records and start directing your flock.
We don’t know the actual origins of bookkeeping, but we can assume that people where keepers of records, financial records, for a long time. There have been records found dating back to 2600 BC which have been called “waste logs” the have shown to keep records of basic financial transaction: income and expenses. Also, a dude by the name of Luca Pacioli (1447–1517) has been named as the father of modern accounting and bookkeeping. He worked alongside Leonardo da Vinci and perhaps even kept his financial records.
Today, bookkeeping has been significantly improved in its efficiency and can take no time at all to do it yourself. Basic single-entry bookkeeping is the easiest and simplest. All it basically takes is tracking cash out and cash in. There isn’t really a balance sheet and it’s a little harder to make financial decisions. It’s also easier to make mistakes because there is no “balance“.
I would really recommend you forget single-entry and go straight to double-entry right away. The beauty of double-entry is that there must be balance. Every transaction is composed of two transactions that must equal one another. Therefore it’s a little harder to make mistakes. For example, earning $10 cash income would require a debit entry to cash and a credit entry to income . Both of those transactions get recorded to an income statement and are also reflected on the balance sheet. To help ease the pain of deciding where each transaction gets recorded there is a golden rule of accounting, it’s more of a golden equation where A=L+E or E=A-L.
One of the easiest ways to get started is on a note card. You can plan your income and expenses right away, then as you go further keep track of your expenses in real-time. The point of this is strictly to get you in the habit of keeping records. It’s not a good way to manage money but rather to build a habit. You want to get to a point where you enter all your transaction into some sort of accounting software. I would skip any kind of “personal financial” software and go straight to business software. A simple Quickbooks Online file will work great! You want to view your personal finances the way a business owner views his finances (a good business owner).
Your finances are an important aspect of the life God has given you. The Lord has entrusted you with a certain amount of money and you are to steward what he has granted to you to the best of your abilities. If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck without tracking what you are doing, or just splurging as needs come up rather than anticipating needs, than there maybe a need for repentance and change.
I would encourage you to know well the condition of your flock, and if you have any questions or need helping figuring out the condition of your flock, I would be happy to help to the best of my ability. Like you, I too am a student of stewardship.