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STEWARDSHIP | What is stewardship?

It’s difficult to teach or practice stewardship, unless we have a clear understanding of exactly what it is. To embrace stewardship, we must learn and understand the different aspects of stewardship. Here are some stewardship concepts that may be less familiar to us.

Scripture-based: All of the teachings of stewardship come directly from the Gospels, the Old Testament and the letters of the New Testament. Stewardship is not a new fad, or environmental word; it is the way God has expected His people to live since the beginning.

Dependence on God: Stewardship is recognizing that everything we have is a gift from God. We can take credit for nothing. Everything we have and everything we do is a result of some gift that God has placed into our hands.

Transformative: Once we embrace the stewardship message, it changes the way we look at every decision we make. Stewardship becomes a total way of life. It changes our relationship with the Holy Trinity, the angels, the saints and with each other – our friends and our enemies.

A love response: Once we allow God to truly reside in our hearts, we become so overwhelmed by His abundant love for us. We thus naturally feel the need to join our lives with Him and dedicate our gifts to carrying out His work here on earth. Our generosity comes from within and not from any external pressure or reward.

Proportionate giving: Stewardship calls us to realize that each of us is called to give as God has given to us. We no longer base our giving on what others are giving. We no longer excuse ourselves from giving because we do not see others giving. Rather we give in proportion to all that God has given to us.

Trust in God: We believe that our generous God will always provide for us. None of us will ever have all that we want, but we will always have all that we need.

Accountability: Someday each of us will be asked by God to give an accounting of all that we have done with the gifts that have been given to us. Likewise, parish communities must be accountable to the community for the way in which the parish uses the gifts entrusted to it.

Counter-cultural: While society encourages us to continually strive for more and more, stewardship helps us to recognize that we already have more than enough. In fact, we have enough to share.

Everything: Stewardship encompasses everything in our lives, especially the stewardship of creation. It is not just compartmentalized into our time, our talent and our treasure. It is not only being grateful and generous with our visible material gifts, but more importantly, with our invisible gifts of love, mercy, forgiveness and friendship.

Discipleship: Stewardship is our response to our discipleship. We strive to put God first in all things and to follow where Our Lord might lead us.

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 [email protected]

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