An analogy using Texas Hold’em
On page 39 of Chip Ingram’s book, Living on the Edge, he states, “One of the most popular new sports on televisions today is poker. I never quite thought of it as a sport, but when ESPN, the Travel Channel, and almost everyone else airs poker games multiple nights a week, I think it’s safe to say there must be a lot of interest. The game that has seems to have captured America in recent years is “Texas hold’em.” The biggest moment in “Texas hold’em” comes when three little words are said, “I’m all in!” The person who has gone “all in” will either leave as a big winner or will be removed from the game, as every single chip that he or she possesses is at the center of the table.”
This serves as a great word picture for our faith and walk in Christ. Chip goes on to say, “Texas hold’em demonstrates better than anything I know of what it means to surrender your life to Christ. The drama doesn’t really get started and the action doesn’t really begin until you say, “God, I’m all in!” It’s when you take the chips of your family, your future, your money, your gifts, your dreams, and all your possessions and you push them to the middle of the table and you say, “Ok, Lord, you deal”, that your life gets really exciting.”
What about you? Are you all in?
Have you ever committed to God that you are “all in” or are there areas of your life still “off limits” to God. Paul shares a powerful verse in Romans 12:1, stating, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
A godly steward recognizes that they must fully surrender everything to God. To be a living sacrifice means we are active stewards of the time, talent and treasure God has temporarily loaned us on earth and that we trust Him to be faithful to His promise to never lack.
Use the grid below to chart your progress on complete surrender to God:
Increasing your capacity as a godly steward
I had a mentor share a powerful analogy as it relates to one’s spiritual capacity using a barrel. A traditional barrel is made up many vertical wooden staves that are bound either by metal or wood. A barrel can only hold as much liquid as its lowest stave. The liquid will drain out from the top of the lower stave and eventually level off, regardless of the height of the other staves.
Let’s use this analogy and relate it to our capacity as a steward. As a steward, your life (the barrel) consists of three primary staves: time, talent and treasure. As you charted your progress above, which stave did you rate the lowest as fully surrendered to God? In a similar way as the barrel, your capacity as a godly steward is limited by your lowest stave. A Scriptural example of this is found in Luke 16:10 NLT, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities.” If we are good stewards of our finances, then we should also strive to be good stewards of our time and talents. Nowhere in the Bible does it justify a person who is faithful in one area of stewardship but not the others. Scripture provides ample examples of followers who were good stewards of their time, talent AND treasure, so we must seek to grow and surrender each one completely to God. Much like the barrel and its staves, as we grow in one particular area of stewardship, it will strengthen our capacity in others.
Taking a step toward surrender
Take a note of which area you noted as lowest on the percentage scale. Was it time, talent or treasure? Before discussing practical ways to improve, the most important aspect is the condition of your heart. Can you honestly say you are ready to surrender this area to God? If not, I would recommend a focused season of prayer, studying stewardship Scriptures and reading one of my favorite books, The Treasure Principle, by Randy Alcorn. If you answered “yes”, there are there are a couple of ways to approach growth in surrender from a practical perspective.
One way is to focus on what you are doing well and do it more. Take time to note or write down three ways you are witnessing a life of surrender as it relates to that specific area of stewardship:
Then write down how you can increase your level of commitment.
Write these down in your personal journal or on the inside cover of your Bible. Pray regularly for God help you continue to be faithful and to continue to grow.
Another approach is focusing on those things that are hindering surrender in that particular area of your life. Take time to write the top three:
In a similar way write these down and then make a part of your quiet time praying for God to change you. Like David, pray Psalm 139:23 to God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” It starts with agreeing with God’s perspective and then being open and willing to change. He is faithful to show up because He is the Living God.
In closing, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16).