By Dean Bitz, UGM Director of Finance and Operations
Stewardship is more than how we handle our money. We steward God’s Word, we steward his people, and we steward his resources.
As is in our name, Union Gospel Mission, we are a steward of God’s Word first.
Our mission statement includes, “…to reach the poor with the love and power of the gospel.” Providing an opportunity for our guests to know the Lord is our number one purpose. Scripture refers to believers as priests of God's Word, and as priests, we are messengers of the Lord of hosts. We know that his Word gives life and peace. As we teach people to walk with God and others in peace and uprightness, we provide opportunities for them to turn away from the choices that may have brought them through UGM's doors in the first place. In this way, we "steward" the instruction and knowledge that God provides through his Word. As I've been reading through the book of Malachi this month, I've discovered a wealth of God's wisdom on the idea of stewardship. He says about priests:
“My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 2:5-7)
Second, we are a steward of his people: our guests and our staff.
Included in our Mission Statement is, “…so they may become God-dependent, contributing members of society.” We are an advocate for the poor. Many people come to us who are suffering loss, whether from the decisions they’ve made or simply due to circumstances beyond their control. Restoration of their wellness—their spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, social, environmental and occupational needs—all define how we develop the programs and services we offer. Restoration isn’t one dimensional. For true restoration, you need to address all seven aspects. Those who experience all that our LIFE Recovery Program has to offer have the potential to be restored to their families and a job with one of our practicum partners. Having addressed all of these needs, we are able to help restore dignity, a sense of belonging and God-dependence to people whose lives were once crushed by chaos and pain. By helping them become employable again, we help them become contributing members of society.
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness […] against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear me.” And in 4:6: “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” (Malachi 3:5)
As far as staff, I’m in a unique position: I’m the Director of Finance and of Human Resources. That can be a double bind. It is a delicate process, as most business owners and entrepreneurs know, to keep a balance of payroll costs to operating expenses. But, the Spirit of the Lord prevails. Our staff are the messengers. Each fulfills a unique role, not only meeting the needs required for UGM to complete its work, but also, hopefully, fulfilling their needs, as individuals, to serve in a capacity that is suitable for them—for their desires, education, skills and abilities. Although we can’t always monetarily value a person the way they see themselves, we are able to provide competitive wages and benefits to our employees to honor them and their service.
We are also stewards of the resources God provides.
Our mission statement begins with, “Partnering with the Inland Northwest.” That’s you. In verse 10, God was addressing the Israelites because they were bringing blemished sacrifices to the altar. They weren’t bringing their first fruits; they were bringing their spoiled fruit or what they had stolen. When you give to UGM, whether a monetary donation or what we call a gift-in-kind of household items or clothing, we value it as your first fruits. That is God providing for UGM through you. Our annual report will tell you that we spend 87% of all the resources we receive on serving the poor in our community. We are very aware that we’re accountable to steward all the resources that are provided to us in a manner worthy of the Lord. Through you, he has truly opened the windows of heaven and poured out his blessing on UGM.
In conclusion, just as God stewards everything that is his by ceaselessly tending our needs and the needs of this world, we are responsible for the people and possessions he has put in our hands. We at UGM take this responsibility seriously, and we welcome you to join us in stewarding the lives and hearts of the Inland Northwest's most vulnerable men, women and children. For his glory and our joy.
“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of Heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’” (Malachi 3:10)
“‘From the rising of the sun even to its setting, my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to my name, and a grain offering that is pure; for my name will be great among the nations,’ says the Lord of hosts.” And 3:16-17 says, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. ‘They will be mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare my own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’”
Dean Bitz is the Director of Finance and Operations, overseeing multiple divisions of administrative function as well as spearheading major enterprises and ensuring the ongoing health and well-being of every team and partnership in his care. He has been an invaluable member of the UGM team since 1996.