- Supervise arrangements or keep order at (a large public event)
- Manage or look after (another's property)
When the church talks about stewardship, we often refer to time, talents, and treasures to consider what we have to offer. However, I think we should start thinking more broadly of ourselves as stewards (n.) and our activity as stewarding (v.) When we consider ourselves as stewards, we embrace a vocation, and not just an activity. We become the ones who are given the responsibility to oversee all that belongs to God. Everything I do is a part of this identity, because everything I have belongs to God. To be honest, it is an intimidating role to embrace. The biblical steward (the estate manager or chief servant) was the most trusted of servants and given the most responsibility. They had free reign to make decisions with the owner’s finances and possessions, but also had to bear the responsibility for those decisions. There are quite a few parables that illustrate the actions of a steward, some as a positive example (The Workers in the Vineyard) and some as an example of the consequences of both strong and poor decisions (The Parable of the Talents.) The Apostle Paul takes this metaphor even further, considering us as stewards of the “ God’s mysteries” (1Cor. 4:7.) This all-encompassing understanding reminds us, again, that all we have is God’s, including our relationship with God!
The ELCA embraces this holistic understanding of our role as stewards, and describes six Competencies of a Well-formed Steward:
- Trusts God’s abundance
- Grounds oneself in Biblical and theological principles
- Holds a holistic perspective
- Perceives connectedness
- Engages and critiques culture
- Embraces financial health as an expression of faith
As we hear this month the stories of our faith in action and consider how to best steward our time, talents, and treasures, I pray that we all can rejoice together in the great responsibility that God has laid in our hands, to care for God’s house, God’s household, and God’s children.
Vicar Stephanie Luedtke