The best Christmas present I've ever received wasn't a TV or a piece of jewelry. It was a silver Bach Stradivarius trumpet. In the few years leading up to that Christmas, I'd thrown myself full-force into the world of high school band. Up to this point I'd only owned used, dented, scratched beginner or intermediate instruments. They were nothing compared to the shiny, brand-new, professional-grade beauty I received that year. It sounded amazing and I adored it, even gave it a name. I was a weird kid. I loved this trumpet so much that one night after Christmas I had a dream (read: nightmare) that I took it to school and somehow it got a giant dent in its malleable metal body. In the dream, I proceeded to interrogate all my friends and classmates until I found the culprit. When I woke up, I ran over and unzipped the case to check my Strad, relieved to find it was just a dream.
While this story could speak to the dangers of materialism, it also speaks to the power of ownership.
When you own something valuable, you reap the rewards of having it at your disposal, but you also take on the responsibility of caring for its well-being. Responsible ownership is not passive. It's active, on-watch, progressive.
When I first held my new trumpet, I imagined playing it in beautiful concerts, butt-kicking marching band competitions, and fun jazz band gigs. And I did. Even won a marching band state championship with it. It reminds me how ownership also brings vision. It places hope in your heart and gives you the guts and resources to follow through.
But ownership isn't just about material objects. It's really about anything for which we take responsibility: our talents, jobs, passions, relationships. We need ownership and co-ownership in our lives. Not so we can be in control, but so we can be invested.
I struggle with this. I'm scared of over-committing. Of getting myself into situations where I let people down. Of losing my freedom because I'm tied to a responsibility. But when I avoid ownership, when I just go through life always touching things in passing instead of grabbing them with both hands, I miss out. I forfeit the many benefits: belonging, seeing hard work come to fruition, making an impact, etc. I know this. And I'm working on it, but I'm still not there yet.
Some people struggle with the other side of ownership. They forget there are times to cut loose and move on. And you should choose what to invest in wisely. Many things are worth your time, but not everything. And even when you can fill your life with worthy causes, you can't do everything. You can't own everything. You can't have your hands on every project. You need to learn to delegate, share, take a backseat, train up others to fill your position.
Remember, investment is more important than control. Because as much as we cling to the lie that we can have control, we aren't in control.
It's helpful to think of what we have as ownership, because of our natural relationship to the results of that term. But what we really have is stewardship. God owns all things, and we are stewards of what He's given us. But we are still responsible. God deserves more than a second-rate effort for the mere fact that He trusts us with His gifts, not to mention everything else He has done for us.
We own God's gifts in a similar way to how I owned my trumpet. It was a gift from my parents. They bought it out of their love for me and gave it to me for a specific purpose: to make music. They expected me to play it, as I did nearly every day until the end of high school. It was given to me, I took responsibility for its use, and we all got to enjoy the music. I think stewardship looks a lot like that, except God takes more of a hands-on approach to helping us make the most of what He's given us. He helps us own it.
"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’" -- Matthew 25:21
What do you need to take ownership of in your life? We're at a point in time at Blueprint when we need people to step up and own this family like never before. What has God given you? Where are you able to invest? Think about it. Pray about it. Own it.