The Gift of Mind

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Our series exploring the new book, Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holisitic Approach to Stewardship continues this week with the stewardship of mind. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually think of my mind as something to steward. But our writer, Neal Presa, makes a compelling case that for Christians, stewarding our mind must be part and parcel of holistic stewardship. Indeed, for faithful people, mind, body, soul, spirit are all deeply intertwined. 

Yours truly,

Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders

The Gift of Mind

Neal Presa

I belong to the ecclesial tribe of the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition. This tradition prides itself on an educated clergy. The founder of our theological heritage, John Calvin, opens his magnum opus, Institutes of the Christian Religion, by speaking about knowledge — knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves. Even the liturgical clothing most Presbyterian clergy types wear is not a cassock nor an alb, but a black Genevan gown, academic regalia.

Stewardship of mind, the gift of our mind, encompasses more than just our mental and cognitive abilities. It’s not merely about reading the right books, or taking upon the discipline of reading widely. For professor types, it’s not merely about multiplying the number of footnotes or endnotes to showcase the vast array of knowledge on a given subject, and imparting the wide knowledge of our careful study and reflection. Stewardship, of course, includes all of that, but it’s not just that.

There’s great truth in the old adage: “The longest journey is the 18 inches between the head and the heart.”

The biblical vision of “mind” is not just about cognition, mental capacity, intellectual acumen, or being able to answer correctly every question of Trivia Pursuit. The comprehensiveness of “mind” in biblical terms is the mutual relationship of mind, heart, body, life; in short, “mind” is inclusive of what the greatest commandment exhorts, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all of your strength” (Mark 12:30).

The Lord desires we bring to the fore the entirety of our being. After all, there’s no way we can isolate the heart, from the soul, from the mind, from our strength; they interact as one package even as they are distinct parts of who we are.

The unity of life, the integration of self is most supremely seen in the person of Jesus Christ. It’s no wonder that the ancient hymn in Philippians 2:5 calls upon believers to “let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

The hymn then proceeds to speak about the commitment of the Lord Christ to be the humble servant who served the purposes of God and thereby was exalted by God for emptying himself for the life of the world. Thus, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lives out the greatest commandments — love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love neighbor.  It’s that same commitment to God and to humanity that pulsates in the wholeness of who Jesus Christ is and what Jesus Christ does that God desires that same mind, and, therefore, that same soul, heart, and strength to be in us.

When we commit our mind as an act of stewardship, as a sacrifice of praise and worship, we are essentially indicating our “Yes” and “Amen” to God’s call upon us to love God and to love neighbor as we love ourselves. 

To do so, is daily to take upon Jesus Christ in our lives, to be united to Christ in each and every part of our life. That’s not mere knowledge; that’s wisdom. And wisdom is the gift and act of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, whose power and presence promises union with Christ.

*Want to read more? A fuller version of this post appears in the new book, Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holistic Approach to Stewardship, edited by Adam Copeland. To order visit: Amazon, Westminster John Knox Press, or Barnes & Noble.

More Information:

The Rev. Neal D Presa, Ph.D. is Associate Pastor of the 1100-member Village Community Presbyterian Church in Rancho Santa Fe, California; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Worship of Fuller Theological Seminary; Fellow of The Center for Pastor Theologians; and previously Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

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