You know an advertisement is good when you remember it years later. The one I’m thinking about is a television commercial for milk, and I was probably thirteen or fourteen when it aired. The message was, “If you don’t look out for your body, who will?” Since I was at the peak age of puberty and smugly preoccupied with my own physical development, the real meaning escaped me. What went on in my mind was probably different than what the marketers intended:
ACTOR, while pouring a tall glass of milk, condensation covering the glass because the milk is refreshingly cold and undoubtedly good for you, announces: “If you don’t look out for your body, who will?”
ME, while standing in front of the mirror, amazed that God made such an excellent being and feeling sorry for everyone else because I got it all, thinks: “Who’s looking at my body? Duh, everyone is…look at these rippling muscles (as I kiss my biceps) and this rich pasture of chest hair? What a stupid question.”
Of course, I heard what I wanted to hear (look at my body) and not what he really said (look out for my body), so I missed what the commercial was really about. Namely stewardship. But I’m sure I bought more milk because of it.
Now, milk marketers did not invent stewardship, contrary to what they might say. It’s been around since the beginning of time. Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. It always has a direct object. In the milk commercial, the direct object is the body. In the beginning of time, the direct object is the earth.
It’s interesting that as soon as God creates humankind, he instructs us to be stewards of the earth, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion…” It’s like God really wants us to get this principle. But it’s not been easy.
We’ve heard what we’ve wanted to hear instead of what was said. So, some go out to dominate the earth by covering every inch with concrete highways and high rises, filling the skies with gases and digging up natural resources in ways that destroy the local environment. Others go the other way by being dominated by the earth. They leave civilization to commune with nature, take directions from the stars and rescue animals but kill humans.
But neither of these are stewardship. No, stewardship involves: Management that is careful and responsible; and A Direct Object that is entrusted to one’s care.
Do you view the earth as a direct object that is entrusted to your care?
Do you carefully and responsibly manage it?
Because if you do, then you’re a Good Steward.
What a great ad.