“Stewardship” is a word that is seldom used is surfing. For sure, you hear more things like “Dude!” “Stoked!” “Retro, bro!” Stewardship? Actually a key word for Jesus-centered surfing.
It’s starts with this big old world, and all it’s oceans and beaches and reefs, plus all the critters that live in and around these places. Plus everything that grows--the plant life and all that. If you know Jesus, then you know the one who made it all! And long ago, it was in a perfect, newly created, uncorrupted state. Not a single cig butt stuck in the sand. Not a single plastic water bottle bobbing around in the rip. That’s how it all started. You can read about it in the very first page of your Bible: Genesis chapter 1.
In Genesis, we find how the earth was created, and everything else for that matter. It was all “toth” (that’s the Hebrew word for “good”). And God meant for it to stay that way. So He created humans, folks like you and me, who didn’t have a lot of clutter in their lives—no bills to pay, no toilets to clean, no clocks to punch. They were freed up to do one thing especially well for this world: they were to take care of it.
Oh, by the way, these humans had a very clear idea that this earth was not created by people, so there were no rights of ownership that people can claim. They were stewards—these first people—which meant they were entrusted with something that was not there’s to take care of it. All of it. Consider these words:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” –Genesis 1:26
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” --Genesis 2:15
God’s calling to his children now are the same as his calling to Adam, that first human: Rule well! Take care of this place!
So how are we doing with that? It’s clear to see that we were made to rule this earth, and we’ve seen how when we rule poorly, everything and most everyone suffers. Look at the long line of bad rulers we’ve had in history. Sad to say, bad rulers seem to out-live and out-fox good rulers by a wide margin. Bad rulers are really bad stewards (though they would never stoop so low as to consider themselves a steward, they are instead convinced that they own it all). Their impact on this place is devastating and immeasurable. Bad leaders really suck!
Stewards on the other hand, know that they have been given a gift, a trust. For surf stewards, it means we receive with gratitude our local beaches, reefs, and pointbreaks with all it’s surrounding natural wonders. Waves roll in for us to enjoy, but it’s no lock those that come after us will have the same experience.
I wonder, as you’ve prayed, has God whispered into your ears some words like those of Genesis 1:26 and 2:15: rule well. Take care of this place. And then you can act. And you can blend action into just about every surf session by simply picking up your own trash, and picking up somebody else’s too.
Imagine if that became part of our surf routine, as common as roughing up your wax with a comb and stretching a bit before you paddle out. It’s a little thing that might lead to big things: beaches and line ups free of junk today which in time leads to a cleaner ocean bringing life and health to animals and economies and nations. That’s the ripple effect. Start with something small and watch it grow.
Christian surfers make environmental stewardship an act of worship. Not because we worship the earth but because we worship the earth-maker. And all this world is made by Him. It all belongs to Him. We’re just his friends (Jesus said as much in John 15:15) who take care of his things. Now that we know this, we should be, above all people, be taking the lead. And doing it well.