Maybe it?s me, but I can?t see myself as a ?steward? of much of anything these days. I?ve got a load of debt, my home is falling in value, and I haven?t saved much. What do I have to be a steward of?

A priest friend of mine is fond of saying, ?Phil, we?re all stewards whether we like it or not. There is no choice in that.? The question is, ?What kind of steward are we going to be??

I spend a lot of time guiding people on how they can be the stewards of Providence the Lord calls them to be. I also do a lot of listening. I hear how people make progress, and I hear about the obstacles that get in the way of their making progress.

The reason that I place so much emphasis on forming attitudes ? I consider becoming a steward of Providence to be the first and most important step toward becoming truly financially free ? is that the actions we take flow from our attitudes or interior disposition.

After attending a small-group study on my book 7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free, one woman noted that it?s from your values that you make your choices in life. Understanding what it means to be a steward of Providence gave her a stronger sense of what her values were with money, and that was making her choices easier. There is a lot of wisdom in that statement.

Another participant said that understanding God?s role as one of creator and owner (Deuteronomy 10:14), and her and her husband?s role as a steward or manager, made all the difference for them. They used to argue about money: the typical ?his vs. hers? argument. Once they understood that all they have ultimately belongs to God, all that changed. As she said, ?How can you argue about something that isn?t even yours??

Becoming truly financially free is a function of recognizing God?s gifts to us, and our responsibility to use those gifts in ways pleasing to him. He loved us first, and we are called to respond back with love. It?s true that our response should include taking the practical steps necessary to manage our resources well. That?s why I encourage people to develop a plan, grow in generosity, set godly spending priorities, save for the future and avoid unproductive debt. But taking these steps starts with our attitude.

I remember the story of a business executive. He had devoted himself to his career, making many sacrifices along the way ? including letting his responsibilities with his family and the practice of his faith slip. After years of clawing his way up the corporate ladder, he finally reached the top. It was only then that he realized he was climbing the wrong building.

Between our fallen human nature and our consumer-oriented society, it?s very easy for us to start chasing after the wrong goals.

So what?s my greatest recommendation for reaching true financial freedom? Conform your attitude to Christ?s by better understanding what it means to be a steward of Providence.

Then consistently apply those principles in your daily life. God love you.

Phil Lenahan is president of Veritas Financial Ministries (