What is Stewardship? (Hint: it’s much more than a $ sign.)

Sometimes it is easiest to describe what something is by stating what it is NOT. Stewardship is not merely about how we spend our money. It is certainly is not simply a fancy word used by churches to get people to donate to the parish. However, the word is often understood as such.

Fr. Mark McCormick began using the slide below when the Stewardship Initiative was first implemented in the Diocese in 2015. However, whenever I bring it up with a group of people, the most common thing I still hear is that, “stewardship is about money.”

 

 

So, if we were to distill Stewardship down to its essential elements, to answer quickly and succinctly the question, “What is a Christian Steward?”, what would that explanation include?

For me, the fundamental beliefs which guide the Christian steward are these:

  • God is the owner of all things.  Everything we possess and all that we are as human persons are gifts from God, who loves us more than we can often imagine and desires only our good.  We are beloved sons and daughters of the Creator of the universe. This is why we use the word “steward”. A steward is someone who has been entrusted with something not his own. Christian stewards understand that they are receiving and caring for the gifts of God. And these gifts include many things: our material wealth, our health, our talents, the time we have each day, our faith.
  • Gratitude. As Americans, we set aside one day a year to be thankful, but Christian stewards cultivate gratitude daily. This is a habit we have to work to develop because we find what we are looking for. If we are looking for the blessings of life, we will find them. As we begin enumerating and thanking God for the many gifts He has given, we begin seeing them everywhere. And the more we see and are thankful, the more our lives are transformed. this habit plants us firmly on the road to Living A Catholic Way of Life.
  • Generosity. Trusting in God’s love and care for us and seeing the many blessings and gifts, we respond with gratitude and generosity.  Knowing that God’s love is infinite, his care unending, we carry in our hearts a belief in abundance, not scarcity.  After all, our Lord fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, what do we have to fear? Knowing that the source that we are drawing from is infinite, we are free to be generous.
  • Trust. A Steward who recognizes the gifts given by God, is thankful and practices generosity experiences the abundance and goodness of God in concrete ways in life. Experiencing this goodness then leads to greater trust. The more we trust, the more we experience this goodness. And the cycle continues.
Recognition that God is the owner of all things, practicing gratitude and generosity and growing in our trust in God, lead us into this Catholic Way of Life.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 1 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)

 

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