Stewardship: Redeeming a Truncated Word
- The Rev. Bob Dannals
- Oct 05, 2017
- Category: General
- Blog Feed
The virtue of stewardship began as a pure expression of gratitude, responsibility and accountability for what we've been given, but has now become truncated by years and years of being seen merely as the annual effort of churches seeking funds for program and ministries. The word "stewardship" now has a dull ring, taking on the drone of an annual address given to a sleepy congregation on a Sunday morning. But in terms of what it is intended to mean, it is not dull at all. Stewardship has to do with a person's calling, it is the meaningful work one does, it is the heartfelt summons to be a giver, to extend oneself for the sake of others. It's the valued investment of energy, passion and love in the places that count, it's everything one does with life and resources after that person says "yes."
At the core, the biblical idea of stewardship poses challenging and life-giving questions: What treasure occupies your heart? What are your aspirations and why? By what standard do you measure others. What is our responsibility regarding the natural order? Where do we spend most of our time and energy? For many people in our culture, the truth is that we spend a great deal of energy expended on how we can position ourselves to earn a higher income and enjoy greater prestige and ease of living.
As Christians, then, what does it mean to be a good and faithful steward? Well, most of us would do well by simplifying a bit, by being more generous with time and money, by taking more reasonable risks, investing ourselves in the younger generation, by promoting beauty and the arts (fine and performing), by giving voice to those who don't have one -- by virtue of their physical, emotional or economic condition, and by humbly appealing to scripture and the example of Jesus. If any of us has particular and well-honed talents, then using them -- and using them often -- for the sake of others is part of a satisfying life. Teaching others a talent or coming alongside a young person as a mentor are maybe the best ways to exercise stewardship, and being an advocate for the creation of good paying jobs and careful conservation of natural resources are vital expressions of tending to God's world. And, oh yes, giving lavishly and joyfully to non-profits, especially to Holy Innocents' Church is central to good stewardship. To that end, we mailed stewardship packets this past week. Please give this your prayerful response.