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STEWARDSHIP | What stewardship is not

Sometimes the best way to explain something is to say what it isn’t.

Stewardship is not:

• All about money: The central point of stewardship is growing in friendship with the Holy Trinity and each other. It’s all about growing in relationship and helping each other get to heaven.

• A campaign or a program: Stewardship is a lifestyle. It is living a virtuous life of gratitude and generosity on our path to growing in holiness. Stewardship is a fruit of our discipleship that leads to evangelization — helping disciples become disciple makers.

• Self-centered: Seeing God as the source of all good things reminds us that we are His children, made in His image and likeness. Seeing others as God’s children helps us become Christ-centered.

• Something the Church recently made up: Stewardship is not a fad. It comes directly from the Bible. It’s how God expected His people to live since the beginning. Stewardship helps us from putting other “gods” before God.

• About comparing myself to others: Stewardship is about comparing myself to myself. How am I becoming a better version of myself each day? Am I using my gifts in the way God intended and not worrying about what others think?

• About doing the bare minimum required: When our discipleship evolves from obligation to love, we attend Mass not because we have to, but because we want to. That’s how it is with love: You want to spend more time with the other person.

• Results-oriented: Getting more people to Mass, getting more volunteers or increasing offertory are good secondary goals of stewardship, but if our actions don’t lead people to God, they are not worth doing.

• Random acts of kindness: Stewardship is intentional. It is rooted in love, not random, with no strings attached. Stewardship takes time. Stewardship means investing in others and in the Holy Trinity.

• About the “what”: The busyness of the “what” in parish activities may lead to anxiety, frustration and anger that can cause people to move away from God. Focus on the “why” — growing closer to Christ. God calls us to be obedient and faithful, not perfect.

• Fundraising: Stewardship is giving from our “first fruits” — our first and best without expecting anything in return. Through our Sunday offertory, we unite our sacrifice with Jesus to do the will of God the Father.

• Something I do on my own: God has given each of us gifts. How we use those gifts is our gift back to God. No gift is too small or insignificant. Stewardship transforms not only our own lives, but the life of our parish community.

David Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Assumption in south St. Louis County.

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