Stewardship: a complex word and a difficult concept. Many people prefer not to talk about it, but sometimes it is because they fail to understand what it really is. Stewardship is the management of what God has given us. We usually refer to it as the 3 “T”s: Talent, Treasure and Time. But there’s a fourth, Terra (the creation). Sometimes we forget that we are sons and daughters of God. God has blessed us, blesses us, and will continue to bless us abundantly. Let us think about how God blesses us daily: with time, physical and mental health, energy, talents, possessions, friends, money, food, home, family…we could continue on and on, am I right? This approach is to be thankful for all the blessings we have. Even our very life is a gift from God. Stewardship is a practice of thankfulness and generosity, and it reflects our walk with God. Our goal is for our faith to grow and to be able to give generously. This goal is a ministry in itself, which we practice while trying to live a life filled with awareness and gratitude.
Being a good steward
God gave each of us talents to use while we are in this world. How do we use our talents to glorify God? One way is to use our individual talents to the best of our ability. As good stewards, we must practice our talents, improve them, and use them as often as we can to share God’s love with all who need it. We have 24 hours in a day and it is up to us to decide how we will use that time. In the past few months there have been several natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Perhaps we can dedicate our time to assist those in need. We can also use our time praying for the needy, the sick, and the suffering. How can we be good stewards of our planet? An easy way is to start turning off the lights when we don´t need them and avoid wasting water. Let us try recycle as much as possible.
A way to express our Christian values is making stewardship a priority in our lives. We can remember this by asking ourselves the following question: “In what way will everything in my life show that I am a Christian?” If we constantly ask ourselves that one question we will see a change in the way we think, act, speak, listen, and give. Everything we do is for the glory of God, even the way we spend our money. The first thing we have to remember every day is that everything belongs to God. Psalm 24:1 says, “The Earth is the Lord´s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and all those that dwell therein.” In other words, everything belongs to God, everything comes from God and what we do with what God entrusted us is very important.
To become aware of our values we can make an inventory of where we spend our money. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there will also be your heart.” We can make this inventory of our expenses by simply writing down what we spend our money on over the course of one month. We can divide our expenses into categories; clothing, household needs, cleaning supplies, toiletries, donations, church, travel, food, entertainment, etc. We can then further refine those categories; food (supermarket) and food (restaurants.) That will enable us to see at a glance where our values, treasure, and heart really are.
Faithful stewards of His Gifts
As good stewards we have the responsibility of managing something that doesn´t belong to us (because everything belongs to God). It is a privilege that God gave us and we must manage it with great care. When we talk about stewardship in the Church sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that we are collecting funds, but in fact it is something very different. The Very Rev. Miguelina Howell explains, “Stewardship is a spiritual practice of thanksgiving that helps us get close to God. Collecting funds is a specific activity to collect financial resources for a specific purpose.” This spiritual practice helps us grow as people of faith, while collecting funds help us attain a goal or an objective.
To live a full life, let us practice the stewardship of the four “T”s on a daily basis. Let us think about how we can glorify the name of God through our Talent, Treasure, Time and treatment of the Terra. These spiritual practices will bring us closer to God and can continue to make a positive impact even after the end of our physical lives. A way to be a good steward of what God gives us is to make plans for the end of our lives in this world. The Spanish-language ECF booklet on planning for the end of life titled “Faithful Stewards of His Gifts” can help you decide how you wish your worldly assets to be distributed, to give you peace of mind and relieve your loved ones from the burden of having to make those decisions on your behalf. The plans for your estate and the end of your life should reflect your values. This booklet will also help you learn how you can leave a legacy gift to your church.
ECF will be making this booklet available for free to anyone who would like one. To receive this booklet, register and participate in the upcoming Spanish webinar “Un Cafecito con Sandra Montes”.
Sandra Montes was born in Perú, grew up in Guatemala and settled in Texas as soon as she could. Her passions are God, family (especially her son), music, education, and writing and she has been hoping and praying for this position for years.
Sandra has been developing original bilingual resources for her church, school, and others for years. Sandra has been volunteering and working in the Episcopal Church since she was welcomed in 1986. She serves as musician, translator, speaker, consultant, and writer. She earned her doctorate in education in 2016 and is a full-time freelance consultant and musician.
- Un cafecito con Sandra Montes, an ECF Spanish language webinar with Sandra Montes, November 7, 2017
- Year Round Stewardship: Talking About Money, an ECF webinar led by Chris Harris,February, 11, 2014
- Spirituality of Fundraising by Anne Ditzler, ECF Vital Practices Blog, May 25, 2011
- Wholehearted Stewardship by Erin Weber-Johnson, Vestry Papers, September 2013