Practical Ways to Live out Stewardship

Practical Ways to Live out Stewardship

A Christian Steward commits to developing certain attitudes and has a particular way of looking at the world. For instance, a steward recognizes that God is the owner of all things, they practice gratitude and generosity. The are growing in trust in God and committed to deepening their relationship with him. But what are some practical things stewards do as a consequence of their beliefs? Here are just a few:

  • Stewards own things. Things don’t own them. They take care of the wealth God has entrusted them with and put them at God’s disposal. They are detached enough to receive and give freely. They do not hoard. They do not put their security in the accumulation of wealth, but trust in God. They have clarity about what are needs and what are wants. They are thoughtful and intentional in managing their gifts. They give to God and others, not just what is “left over”, but measure their own needs and the needs of others together.
  • Stewards aren’t swept away in a current of “busyness”. They are the owners of their time and make intentional choices about how to spend their time.
  • Stewards make intentional choices to “keep the main thing the main thing.” And for stewards the main things are people and relationships; giving time and resources to God, family and other people God has put into their lives.
  • Stewards are people of prayer; regular, planned and consistent time given to God.
  • Stewards are people of generous hospitality, welcoming and inviting, giving generously of themselves to others.
  • Stewards know that their natural talents and gifts have been given to them, not just for themselves, but to be used for the benefit of others. They are generous in sharing these gifts. They also desire to know and use the supernatural charisms given to them by the Holy Spirit to help build His kingdom.

 

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Out of the mouths of babes

In the middle of September, I was able to participate in the International Catholic Stewardship Council Conference. At the conference, Ron Schatz, the Director of the Office Stewardship and Resource Development for the diocese of Bismarck was awarded the Bishop William G Connare Award. When receiving this award, he told this beautiful story “Did You Put Anything In?”

I would like to preface this story through the lens of The Widow’s Offering in Mark 12:41-44. Jesus is sitting across from the treasury watching people putting their offering in the treasury, the rich and the poor alike. However, he notices that a poor widow has put in from her very livelihood, while the rich have put in from their abundance. St. Paul teaches us in First Corinthians 11:1, “you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”

As you read this stewardship story be mindful that we can learn a lot from a three-year-old who, not only imitates what he sees his own father doing Sunday after Sunday, but ultimately imitating who calls all of us to do more than put in from our “surplus wealth”.

A Stewardship Story: Did You Put Anything In?

     Each Sunday morning when we would go into church, our three children, ages 7, 5 and 3 would take turns picking the pew that we would sit in.  It was our 3-year old son’s turn.  As we entered the back entry way of the Cathedral, I noticed he was off to a fast start down the center aisle.  I had a good idea of where he was heading to.  I tried to hurry to catch up to him because I could see that there was already two other people sitting in the front, left pew – way at the end.

     That first pew is a shorter pew to give parishioners with a wheel chair a place to sit next to their family members who are taking care of them.  Sure enough, that is where my son was going.  When he made it down to that first pew and looked in, he noticed those two ladies at the end and he froze in his tracks.  I was able to catch up to him and I entered the pew first, followed by the children and then my wife. 

     At the offertory collection time, our priest comes to the front of the church and invites all of the children to come forward with their offering.  Our children went up and put their children’s envelope in the offering basket and were back in our pew quickly.  My son crawled on my lap.  Eventually, the ushers came down the middle isle and handed the offering basket to my wife, who handed down to the next child, and the basket eventually made it to my son and me.  He put our adult envelope into the basket and handed the basket to the lady next to us.  She immediately took it from him and reached it to the people in the 2nd pew. 

     My son was watching this and speaking loudly enough for everyone in the church to hear, says to that lady, “Did you put anything in?”

     Wow, was I a proud parent.  My 3-year old son was teaching this lady about stewardship.  The lady whispers quietly, “No.”  My son then loudly says to her, again loud enough for everyone to hear, “You should put something in every time!”  Now I was really, really proud of my son.  This lady was beet red in the face and she quietly whispers, “I will next time.”

     As the Director of the Stewardship Office, the smile on my face was from ear to ear and I had everything I could do to not start laughing.  So, I looked away from that lady, down to the other end and noticed my wife – giving me that look!  Guys, you know what that look is!!  As I gave my son a big hug, I whispered into his ear, “I am very proud of you and I love you.  I think your mom wants to give you a hug too!”  So he crawled over our other two children and was able to sit on Michele’s lap for the rest of Mass.

Stewardship Requires Sacrifice

Last week I spent four days backpacking in the Big Horns with Fr. Adam Hofer and 10 young adults from our diocese. The Big Horns radiate with the majestic power and glory of God’s creation.  The lakes, the switchbacks of the mountains, and the wildflowers carpeting the landscape of the steep and rugged terrain that often took my breath away.

It is much easier easy to see the beauty of God’s creation backpacking in the Big Horns, than to see God’s same beauty in my family, in my brothers and sisters, in my neighbors and the stranger in my midst. Why is that?

In my reflection since I returned, I was drawn to revisit the Bishops Pastoral letter on Stewardship, in particular chapter 3 “Living as a Steward.” There are several lines in this chapter that reminded me of my Big Horns experience.

 “God wishes human beings to be his collaborators in the work of creation, redemption, and sanctification; and such collaboration involves stewardship in its most profound sense. We exercise stewardship, furthermore, not merely by our own power but by the power of the Spirit of truth, whom Jesus promises to his followers.”(cf. John 14:16-17)

“Everyone has some natural responsibilities for a portion of the world and an obligation in caring for it to acknowledge God’s dominion.”

To be faithful stewards we must become more aware of God’s deepest desire for us, to be His collaborators in the work of creation, redemption and sanctification, which takes great responsibility on our parts.

It’s interesting as we were backpacking out I reminded everyone that we needed to carry out our human waste, in which began to hear the low murmuring of voices among the troops such as: “Sorry, my backpack is already full. No room in back either.  I didn’t use the poop bags while was up here.”

The challenge to be a faithful steward is a willingness to collaborate in God’s creation which calls for a sacrifice on our part to look beyond ourselves and to see the beauty of everything God has made including our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and even the stranger in our midst.

Fr. Mark’s Musings