Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Equip Green - Stewardship for the King

My friends have come to know I'm rather passionate about my energy conservation and other green measures. There's my Prius, of which I can carry on quite a one-sided conversation! There's my solar panels from Solar City, which are a great economic value based on my lease provisions. Or the new LED lights I put in our living room.... And the list goes on.

In truth, my passion is not just about energy. It's about good stewardship. The classic concept that none of this stuff is really mine--it all belongs to the King, and I've just been entrusted with it for a short while. In the Old English sense of the word, I am a keeper of the pigs - a warden of the sty - the sty-ward = steward. OK, so I don't have many pigs to keep, but God has entrusted me with a whole lot of other stuff to keep up with:
The earth is the Lord's - and all it contains! (1 Corinthians 10.26)
God's age-old principle of blessing is simple: he blesses us so that we can in turn bless others. When God called Abraham to follow him, 

I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
   and you will be a blessing. 
I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse those who treat you with contempt,
   and all the peoples on earth
   will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12.2-3)
To put it another way: grace begets gratitude. God gives to us, and logically we return thanks. In fact, in the Greek of the New Testament, the word charis can mean either grace or gratitude - one word encompasses both sides of this reciprocal relationship of giving and gratefully receiving. 

So I've always thought the color of a good steward is green. And blue too - because water is such a precious gift for us to make wise use of. But how is this conservation consciousness tied in with the ministry of Equip Disciples with its focus on equipping church leaders in rural parts of Africa and other parts of the globe where theological education is in short supply? The ways are multiple:

  1. Good stewardship is a basic element of theological discipleship. Stewardship is one aspect of what we teach in leadership conferences
  2. Being a wise steward of God's resources stretches every dollar so we can do more for the King.
  3. I have seen in person how our over-dependence on oil in the USA, plus some ill-advised mandates for mixing ethanol in our gas, has raised the price of corn and heightened food shortages around the world in Kenya. The law of unintended consequences is pernicious in a global economy.
  4. Many of the practical things we learn here about conservation of energy or water can be translated directly to developing economies around the world. Such as the need to pick a laptop based on its battery life. Other technologies such as solar panels, have practical corollaries such as simple solar ovens, which could be a tremendous economic boon to a household that spends 20% of their income on cooking fuel.

And so I've set out to publish Equip Green to convey practical ideas for going green for the King. I will share from my personal journey - both what works and some mis-steps. 
For example, at my office, the last 7 years have exhibited good progress in reducing electricity consumption. Years 2005 through 2008 all averaged about the same usage. Then 2009 fell well below those years, then 2010 (the light blue line) dropped down further, and the incomplete line on the very bottom is 2011. Usage in winter and spring has been cut by more than half, and summer and fall usage is cut by more than a third. And how did I do that? Changing light bulbs and small computer-related appliances, shutting down one computer, changing out the refrigerator, and attention to details. More on each of these points later.

May God bless you so you may bless others! 

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