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Missouri Catholic Conference Annual Assembly

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Stewardship: Endurance – Character – Hope

We like to see immediate results. We like success. But success is a process, and part of the process is failure. We tend to learn more from failure than success: “For the just man falls seven times and rises again…” (Proverbs 24:16).

Many of us have seen success and failure over the years, and from this we learn that building a stewardship culture takes time — you won’t necessarily see immediate results.

Trusting God is key for our personal stewardship growth and our parish stewardship formation. Things aren’t always going to go according to our plan, but we trust that God has a much better plan in store for us. The first book of Samuel states, “… not as man does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Even though we might not experience our definition of success, as long as what we’re doing is for the glory of God we’re on the right path, regardless of how long it takes. You know the old joke: If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

Are you too willing to “throw in the towel” because you don’t see immediate success? Well, maybe it’s supposed to take time, maybe it’s supposed to be hard, maybe we’re supposed to experience failure first before we start producing fruit, St. Paul wrote, “we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope …” (Romans 5:3-4).

Setbacks and failures are growth opportunities with God to seek His guidance and direction, and to allow the Holy Spirit to take an active presence in our lives. They’re times to align our thoughts and actions with God’s plan. And St. Teresa of Kolkata reminded us that God doesn’t call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful.

Through our perseverance God gives us gifts: patience, persistence, compassion, gratitude and generosity. These virtues help us build endurance, character and hope, just as St. Paul described, so that we can better reflect God’s love and mercy. (By the way, St. Paul is a great example for us as someone who rejoiced in suffering with all the trials and tribulations he endured.)

We prune trees to produce better fruit. Failure is part of our “pruning” process — the evolution of our personal and parish stewardship.

Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County. He can be reached at (314) 792-7215 or davidbaranowski@archstl.org.


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