The word ‘stewardship’ has inherited the baggage of ‘financial campaign’ and has become a dreaded and dirty word amongst communities of faith.
Stewardship seems to invoke the image of church leadership shaking its members for additional funds until they are financial exhausted. This image is disconcerting for those in the pews, church leadership, and the pastor alike.
But, ‘stewardship’ is broader. It encompasses the whole of our lives.
- Stewardship is the task of managing and caring for ‘something’.
- Stewards are people tasked to manage and care for ‘something’, including:
finances and property, but also supplies, order at social events, and people themselves.
We, as Christians, are taught that God created all matter and appointed humankind as its stewards. But, what does this mean?
We are called to manage our finances, time, and talents well while striving towards God’s Will by
- proclaiming Christ in word and deeds;
- seeking justice;
- acting with compassion and mercy; and
- loving and serving all people.
Stewards of Financial Means
Our household and congregational budgets are to be well managed reflecting that baptismal calling.
Scripture and tradition teaches the offering of a tithe (or 1/10th) of all material possessions to be given for the glory of God and to the service of God, which provided for the Levities (priests), the Temple, and God’s mission to care for the poor, the orphan, and the widow.
Stewards of Time, Energy, and Talents
Similar to our finances, we must budget our time, energy, and talents to reflect that baptismal calling.
We cannot permit ourselves to either be self-indulgent hoarding our time, energy, and talents for selfish purposes or becoming emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually exhausted.
Stewards of Humanity
The management of our finances, time, energy, and talents are for the stewardship and care of humanity ensuring that none are in any need (including clothes, food, and shelter) and are able to thrive. It includes family, loved ones, friends, neighbors, and strangers near and far.
Stewards of Creation
The management of our finances, time, energy, and talents are also for the stewardship and care of creation as our home. We should tend to, protect, and clean it in order that it may thrive.
I invite you to ponder this holistic stewardship of your finances, time, energy, and talents for the sake of humankind and the creation as a spiritual practice to embrace moving forward.