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STEWARDSHIP | Gratitude and generosity — lessons learned

The gift God wants the most is our heart

My faith conversion started eleven years ago. In this time, God has been giving me lessons in gratitude and generosity. Here are some things I’ve learned.

Building a relationship requires a daily commitment to prayer. Our relationship with God starts and grows by talking and listening to Him every day. If we aren’t listening to God, who are we listening to? This is best done in silence when we can hear His response.

We have to open our heart to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Quite frankly, we can’t give what we don’t have. We need to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness first before we can give it to others.

We should thank God daily, every day and throughout the day, for all that we are and all that He has given us. If we keep looking up to God in gratitude, we will rarely look down on others in judgment.

We are all one Body of Christ. We are a community called to help strengthen each other’s faith and our relationship with God. The whole point of stewardship is to help each other get to heaven.

It means putting our complete trust in God, in all things, by sharing all of our gifts. Especially that one “thing” that means the most to you — maybe it’s time, a talent or maybe money.

It’s clear that we have been given different gifts and that we aren’t called to do the same thing in the same way. In order for God’s plan to work, you have to do what God is calling you to do and I have to do what God is calling me to do. Guess what? Each of us has been given a different plan.

For me, this means I need to stop comparing myself to others. I need to stop complaining about what I lack and be thankful for what I was given; no gift is too small or insignificant. I need to understand that things may not go according to my plan and that God has a better plan for me.

I encourage you to really think about how you’re using your gifts. Are you mechanical with your sharing out of obligation or are you generous out of love for God and neighbor?

We hear the phrase “time, talent and treasure” used all the time, but the gift God wants the most is our heart. When it comes to being good stewards, our heart must be in it first, otherwise it is meaningless and it will not take root and grow in our personal lives and in the life of our parish community.

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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