Stewardship means experiencing everything as gifted to us by the Sacred. Everything! This includes our skills, abilities, talents, spiritual gifts, qualities, financial resources, Land, food, shelter, community, family, friends, blessings, abundance, hopes and desires, goals and accomplishments. All of it has been gifted and supported by the presence and work of the Sacred. Stewardship invites us to engage life as custodians of these gifts.
When we begin to create a stewardship lifestyle, this is key. We are care-takers of what the Sacred has given to us.
Downton Abby: Season 1
Lady Mary, the eldest daughter, struggling with the fact that she will not inherit Downton, walks with her father as he explains:
Lord Grantham: If I had made my own fortune and bought Downton for myself, it should be yours without question. But I did not. My fortune is the work of others who labored to build a great dynasty. Do I have the right to destroy their work, or impoverish that dynasty?
I am a custodian, my dear, not an owner. I must strive to be worthy of the task I’ve been set.
The Sacred gifts us:
Our Sacred Scriptures, reminds us of this:
After creating all of creation, God creates humankind and then, “God blessed them (humankind): “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” Then God said, “I’ve given you every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth, and every kind of fruit-bearing tree, given them to you for food. To all animals and all birds, everything that moves and breathes, I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.” (Genesis 1: 28-30)
“If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:18, The Message)
Stewardship: Using all we are given responsibly
This means living our life with the mindset of Lord Grantham: “I am a custodian. I must strive to be worthy of the task I’ve been set.”
The Sacred has given us all that is within our lives, therefore we must strive to be powerful custodians. This does not mean laying around and doing nothing. It means working to protect and grow what we have been given.
The parable of the talents, in Matthew 25: 14-30 tells us just that. In this parable, Jesus tells a story about a land owner who gives his slaves money before going on a trip. The slaves are to keep the money and be responsible for it while the landowner is gone. Two of the slaves work to increase the money they have been entrusted with, and are rewarded upon return. One, fearing his master, hides the money to keep it safe, returning what was entrusted to him when his master returns. His master is not happy that the slave did nothing to increase what he was given.
The Sacred entrusts us with a great deal of skills, abilities, resources, gifts, qualities throughout our lifetimes. It is our job to, in gratitude for the Sacred’s blessings, work to grow, expand, strengthen, build them; to share them out in the world; to use them to transform the world for the better.
How are you strengthening what the Sacred has blessed you with?
Where are you offering your gifts in this world?
How are you engaging the world, using your skills and qualities, to bring about justice?
How are you being a good steward of what the Sacred as entrusted to you?