Years ago, as I was preparing the outline for my first book on stewardship, the editor with whom I was working said one day in conversation, “You know why this book is so important to me? Stewardship changed my life!” I had known this editor for a few years; we had shared little tidbits about our lives and ministry, but until that moment, I had no idea what was driving the way the editor lived his life and faith, shared his time with immigrants and the poor in his local town, and participated in the life of his parish. I still do not know if he had ever read the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, or if he had ever seen what the bishops say about this: “Stewardship is an expression of discipleship, with the power to change how we understand and live out our lives.” (SDR, 3)
What exactly is the powerful impact of stewardship in our lives? There is no definitive answer to that, of course, but there are common experiences worth mentioning here:
- Stewardship moves us from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance.
- Stewardship leads us to recognize and respond to the grace of God in our lives.
- Stewardship gets us out of the trap of selfish, self-centeredness, freeing us to live for God and others.
- Stewardship is a spiritual way of life with very practical implications.
- Stewardship is about grateful discipleship. As stewards, we grow as followers of Jesus and strive to live as Christ’s people in the world.
Like my editor, understanding myself as a steward has changed my life. It impacts the decisions I make about the ways I use my time, offer my talents, and share my financial and material resources. Reflecting on the call to be a good steward has made me more attentive to the blessings of life, faith, relationships, and the beauty of God’s creation. What is the impact of stewardship in the ways you understand and live out your life?