Shepherding Our Families as Trustees for God

Shepherding Our Families as Trustees for God

by Craig Smith
There is a vision which, to the extent that this vision
is thoroughly Biblical, we men must learn to see and
then learn to embrace. Read on and see what you think.
We are trustees, put on this earth to look after and be
stewards of everything God has created, and more
specifically, those things which He has Providentially
placed into our hands and under our roofs. Being a
trustee is different from being a creator or an owner or
an employee or a slave. Ultimate owners and all creators
have total control over those things they totally
own or totally created. All decisions they make, even
when consulting only themselves, in regard to how
these things they own or created are allowed to exist,
utilised or destroyed – including human life – are perfectly
valid and proper. Employees and slaves have
only a minimum of responsibility toward those things
in their care: their daily activities consist overwhelmingly
in doing as they are told.
Being a trustee is different. We have a lot of responsibility,
nearly total responsibility, over those things of
which we are trustees or stewards. When the owner of
these things returns, He will require of us an accounting
as to how we looked after His goods. You’ve heard
all this before. Re-read the parable of the ten pounds or
ten minas in Luke 19:11-27.
Being trustees means we don’t ultimately own anything:
not our properties, our families, our health: these
are all rightly the property of Almighty God. He gives
us both commands and guidelines as to how to steward
these things, but He also leaves us in the dark as to
much of their final disposition. However, the Lord
does give us also the ultimate purposes for which we
are to be stewarding all these things He delivers into
our trustee care: to bring praise and glory to His Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians
3:17), seeking first His Kingdom and His Righteousness
(Matthew 6:33).
The Lord God has peculiarly supplied His people with
the authority and the tools we will need to accomplish
our stewardship successfully. In I Peter 2:9 we are told
that we are “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the
wonderful deeds of Him Who called you out of darkness
into His marvellous light.” There’s the idea of
praising Him again. And also that we are commissioned
as a royal priesthood, holy nation, God’s own people,
etc., giving one the impression that we should be easy
to identify. If we are declaring His marvellous deeds all
the time, that will set us apart. And in Matthew 28:18-20,
the Great Commission, our Lord Jesus tells us to go and
make disciples of all nations, baptising them in His Triune
Name and teaching them to obey all His commands.
II Corinthians 3:18 says we who have had the veil lifted
“are being changed into His likeness from one degree
of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord Who is
the Spirit.” Paul sets us an example to follow, I believe,
when he says in Philippians 3:13-14, “But one thing I
do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to
what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
We are being changed by His Spirit into His likeness,
straining ever onward and upward. I dare say, this will
certainly set us apart and attract attention. As a city set
on a hill cannot be hidden or a lamp not hidden away
but set on a stand (Matthew 5:14-15), as “children of
God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse
generation, among whom you shine as lights in
the world, holding fast the word of life” (Philippians
2:15-16), we will not only attract attention and be a
beacon in the night…we’ll be pretty obvious targets for
the enemy as well!
You know, if we are doing all this as we are supposed
to be doing it, our lives will start to resemble that of the
Lord Jesus: always telling others of His Father in
heaven, emphasising the difference between worldly
ways and God’s right ways and showing even some of
the religious folks up as hypocrites. And worst of all,
making enemies and catching flak because, just like
Christ, we become such a big, easy-to-identify target.
Hey, I think we’re on to something here. Aren’t we
promised persecution and suffering as Christians?
Plenty of times! See II Timothy 3:12, I Peter 5:9, Acts
14:22, Romans 8:17. The Apostles rejoiced in that they
were counted worthy to suffer for the Name of Christ
(Acts 5:41). So, to summarize: it seems that we are expected
to do a job or fulfil a role on earth, whatever our
daily vocation might be, that closely parallels the job
our Lord did on earth. And if we are doing the same
job as He did , we can expect the same working conditions.
So how does this relate to being trustees? Trustees are
acting in the place of the true owner/creator. Jesus,
while in the appearance of a mere man, was the Creator
and Sustainer of the Universe, the King of kings and
Lord of lords. Yet He caught flak and was hounded and
persecuted when He was on this earth. If we’re doing
the same job as He did, representing the interests of our
Lord and our God, as apparently we’re called to do,
we’ll catch flak too. Yes, He drew adoring crowds
(though they had mixed motives which He did not
trust – John 2:23-25 & 6:15), but whether we draw
such crowds or not, we have been promised that we’ll
draw flak. Why? Because of this aspect of being a trustee:
we represent God’s claim to rule over every square
inch of the earth and to reign over every human institution
ever established. If we were just doing our own
thing, like all the unbelievers around us; if we were just
engaged in a hobby religion, like so many others; if we
were managing our possessions and families and careers
and sports involvements as our peers do, for their
own personal enjoyment or personal objectives, there
would be no hassle. But as representatives of Christ,
we are making it clear that every square inch of dirt we
manage, every relationship we have, every ounce of
influence we carry in every sphere we inhabit is done
for Christ’s glory (not for my personal reasons) and to
proclaim that He is Lord of that dirt, those relationships
and spheres of influence. This is offensive, because
if Christ is Lord over all these things, it means
He has claim over all those people who share those
things, and as Lord, He can and will call them to account
for their involvement with His property. That is
the prerogative of Lordship.
We rarely think of this aspect of Jesus being Lord: that
He is the unrivalled Sovereign, Lord and Master over
everything; but that’s what it means.
When our lives are lived in such a way that He is
clearly proclaimed Lord over all we do, it is a reproach
and offensive to those around us in precisely the same
way that declaring we are home educators is a reproach
and offensive to many of the non-home educating parents
we meet. They know a home educator’s investment
in his children is generally vastly superior to their
own, and the implication that they really should be doing
the same is a reproach, and the further implication
that they need to sacrifice their current lifestyle for the
sake of their children makes them feel so guilty they
get angry.
It appears these days to be particularly offensive if, as
trustees of our families, we men shepherd and guide
our wives and children into the same regimen of obedience
and conformity to Christ’s requirements as we
adopt for ourselves. We do this because our lives are
not our own, we were bought with a price (I Corinthians
6:19-20), and so we are now mere trustees of our
lives which are now to be lived for Christ (Galatians
2:20, Romans 12:1). Our wives and children are not
our own but belong likewise to God, Who has given
them into our care that we might shepherd and steward
and husband them for Christ. “For the husband is the
head of the wife as Christ is the head of the
church,” (Ephesians 5:23). It is our duty, men, to direct
the lives of our wives and children in the manner indicated
by the Scriptures.
Two big areas of offence are presented by this. First,
that a husband dare direct his wife. Whatever we may
personally think about it, the Scriptures are clear about
the different roles of husband and wife, so we all need
to submit to what the Lord’s Bible tells us to do. It
seems to me that husbands have a far greater problem
with assuming their responsibility as heads of the
household than wives do of submitting to their husbands’
authority. Ever since the Lord pronounced the
curse upon the ground and that we men would have to earn
our living by the sweat of our brows, we’ve been
looking for ways to dodge the work, get out of or minimise
every responsibility we can. We are very susceptible
to the temptation to see our life’s task as the fulfilment
of personal peace, pleasure and prosperity. And
how could we be criticised for providing our wives and
children with peace, pleasure and prosperity? How?
This is how: because God does not direct us to seek
these things, but to seek first His Kingdom and His
Righteousness (Matthew 6:33)…lead on, men.
The second area of offence is that either mums or dads
would dare direct their children so closely. Children
are today assumed to be autonomous (self-ruling) and
that they should have the same “rights” as adults, subject
to considerations of appropriate maturity. As soon
as parents give their children over to the state school
system, the children are taught this. Sadly many home
educating parents treat their children the same way,
since they too have imbibed this notion. Christian parents
should have none of it: “Children, obey your parents
in the Lord, for this is right,” we are told in Ephesians
6:1. Which means parents must be laying down
the law for their children’s guidance and instruction.
There is a fact of life that we parents need to come to
grips with: our children will be brainwashed by somebody
or something: that is, their developing minds will
be biased in this way or that way by the attitudes and
values and instruction given them as they grow and
develop. We parents have the responsibility to direct
who and what does this to our children, and as Christian
home educators it seems to me we should unapologetically
ensure that we parents establish in our children’s
hearts and minds the presuppositions and biases,
the attitudes and values the Scriptures tell us they need
to have. I never gave my children the idea that they had
a choice to obey God or not, to do as the Bible and
their parents required of them or not, to be honest or
not, to steal or not. No. They had the same duty as their
mum and dad, I told them: to whole-heartedly and consistently
obey God in an ever-increasingly faithful
manner. Yes, we will fail now and then, but it is a
moral weakness, a sin, when we do, for it shows that
we listened to and sinfully yielded to the voice of the
tempter. When we do what we know is wrong or neglect
to do what we know is right, it is not an autonomous
choice: it is a moral failure, a falling into slavery
to sin, acting unfaithfully toward God. Such a thing is
so abominable, the Scriptures compare it to adultery.
So we shouldn’t copy the world and talk to our children
as the world does about “making responsible, informed
choices” in life: we train our children and ourselves
to perform our duties to God.
As trustees of ourselves and our families and of our
family name, reputation and the heritage we have received
from the Lord – just like the fellows in the parable
who received the pounds or talents, men – we are
expected to do our best to improve and purify and
sanctify these things entrusted to us by God. He will
call us to account. And we will eventually pass all
these things on to our heirs. They too must be trained
up – by us – to steward and husband these things as a
trustee for the same Lord God. We must be done with
the “do your own thing” mentality we most likely grew
up with and hear all around us. We keep our family
close and hand-craft our family unit into a team of
workers committed to helping one another achieve the
common Biblical vision, shared by every member of
the family, as imparted by us, the fathers. God Himself
appointed us to be the heads of households. We are to
ensure our families enhance the vision and extend the
borders of the Christian heritage delivered to us
(through family growth and evangelism) and to pass it
on for the next generation for them to increase it even
further. And so on until Christ returns to receive from
our descendants’ hands that which is His, that over
which we were trustees for Him during our tenure on
(Craig & Barbara Smith have been home educating their 8
children in Palmerston North, NZ, since the first was born in
1980. They helped establish local support groups, published
materials, spoke at conferences and ran several national
Christian home education conferences before going to work
full time for the Home Education Foundation in 1998.)

From Keystone Magazine

April 2008, Vol. XIV No. 74
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
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Fax: (06) 357-4389

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