Stewardship: Finding a Definition to Suit
I attended my first “real” vestry meeting last Sunday and the topic that really drew my interest was “stewardship.” They need to work on it, they said, encourage it, study it. I didn’t know what it was, really. I guessed that it was something to do with money, but I hoped that it was so much more.
I’m a new Episcopalian (though not a new Christian) and a lot of the Anglican terminology is new to me. So I asked. And yes, it’s about money, but it’s also about what you do.
In the header of the Office of Stewardship web pages on the Episcopal Church website it says:
“Using the gifts God has given us to do the work God is calling us to do.”
Awesome. Here we are, back to the “call” of God. I tithe. It’s easy for me to tithe. No bother at all. When you make $80 to $100 a month, it’s easy to throw a ten dollar bill into the collection plate and feel pretty good about yourself. And, of course, I’m tithing my income only, not Marty’s income. My income pays to get my hair cut and colored (an absolute essential, yes?), Marty’s income pays for everything else. I imagine that if I made more, it might get harder to do, but as of now, I don’t miss that $10. And there’s another $10 bill in Marty’s pocket, all I’d have to do is ask for it and it would be mine.
But is stewardship supposed to be that easy? I doubt it, so I dove further into the Office of Stewardship website, and hit the What is Stewardship link.
“Christian stewardship is grateful and responsible use of God’s gifts in the light of God’s purpose as revealed in Jesus Christ. Christian stewards, empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves to conscious, purposeful decisions.”
Holy cow! Now that’s some deep stuff! How many of us think about being “grateful and responsible” as we let go of the money we worked so hard for? And do we ask the Holy Spirit to consciously guide us to make purposeful choices to serve God and our community? How do you define stewardship? What role does it play in your life?
My son Shane is performing in a high school play tonight and tomorrow. For the last three weeks he has been faithfully staying after school for rehearsal and studying his lines, consciously committing himself to his performance. As the day of the performance draws near he has become more and more anxious. His fellow actors don’t know their lines. They aren’t committing themselves fully to the rehearsal. He has realized that his performance will also depend upon their performance.
There’s not a lot he can do, he isn’t playing a lead role so he can’t carry the play on his own back. He has studied his lines, he has shown up for rehearsal and he has done everything he thought was his duty to perform. But has he done everything he could?