One night about 2 am, when my first daughter Stephanie was just a few days old, I was sitting in the living room. It was dark, quiet, and peaceful. Renee had just finished nursing her. I took Stephanie and told Renee to go back to sleep. I took her into the living room and sat down in our rocking chair, holding my little baby girl in this new experience in this quiet and serene atmosphere seemed amazing.
As I rocked her, I could not stop kissing her cheeks and I could not stop thanking God for this precious gift. Like any new parent in this position, a thousand thoughts flooded my mind —two of which I will never forget. One thought I remember was the overwhelming thought of how this new little girl was completely 100% dependent on Renee and I for everything. It sparked this sense of responsibility within me that scared me. The other thought was this feeling of selfishness. I suddenly felt so selfish. The past couple of years—the first two of our marriage had been just about Renee and I. Everything was about us and about doing everything for own pleasure and benefit. This was now all coming to a screeching halt. Our lives were suddenly being transformed in ways we could not possibly know or foresee. She was completely dependent on us. We were completely responsible for her.
Prior to her birth, I had the potential to be extremely faithful but only to what I wanted to be faithful to. I was usually motivated by selfishness. I was now learning to be faithful and make commitments that were somewhat forced upon me by this new season of children. It truly was life-changing.
I was thankful that I had seeds of learning to be faithful deposited in my life along the way. When I was fourteen years old, I received a job as a stock boy in a small grocery store. The gentleman who hired me, turned out to be like a grandfather to me. I just loved him. He treated me like an adult. He taught me many wonderful values and business principles. He put unmerited trust in me by giving me responsibility ahead of my time. 1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV says that faithfulness should be required. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” He had a way of expecting faithfulness from me. Because he put faith in me, I wanted so bad to be someone he could count on. I became that person. I would do anything for that man. I worked hard for him and became someone he could count on eventually managing three grocery stores for him. He had planted seeds of faithfulness in me and they bore fruit.
My own father was one of the hardest working men I had ever known. He was amazingly faithful to his boss and to his profession and became one of the the very best in his field. He modeled this incredible work ethic. He was a father of ten children and he was faithful to his job, His wife, and to being a great dad to his children. He continually made sacrifices in his life to be faithful to his loved ones.
As I got older and was able to appreciate the sacrifices that he had made for his children, I wanted more and more to become like him. Although my youthful immaturity was filled with selfishness, because my father had planted seeds of what being faithful looked like in me, they took root. Selfishness was painstakingly purged from my life because being faithful was a character quality I wanted to have and be known for.
I gave my life to the Lord at the age of 24. The Holy Spirit would constantly challenge me, speaking to me of the value of faithfulness to Him. Proverbs 3:3-4 says, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” I would constantly be challenged in church through the Pastor’s words,“If you want to grow in God, then learn to give. Learn to give of your love, your time, your talents and service, and your resources. Let God stretch you. Let God draw out those undiscovered gifts and talents within you through your commitment and service to Him and your church. What God teaches you in commitment in the church will add great character and blessing to help you succeed in the world around you and throughout the rest of your life.“
I decided to practice being committed to the Lord. Renee and I eventually taught 4 & 5 year-olds in Sunday school for nine years. I learned how to teach and facilitate a Bible study and eventually led three of them. I served in many many areas over the years. Each one stretched and tested my commitment. I learned to consistently serve others when I felt like it and when I didn’t. The true test of commitment and faithfulness of stewardship is when it’s not easy or convenient. The true test of financial stewardship is giving when you need the money elsewhere. That’s where your love walk will be developed and tested over and over and over again. God will help you spiritually grow and develop and mature building life–transforming character through your trust in Him to help you be faithful. Without this training and those seeds of faithfulness planted in me, I wouldn’t be a fraction of the man I’ve become today.
Commitment and faithfulness have transformed me into a strong leader today. They may have cost me a lot, but that prices is pale in the light of how blessed I am in how God has worked in and through my life. He wants to do the same for you! Let Him!
Matthew 6:18 (NKJV) “… your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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