The first, and never ending, step in strengthening stewardship in the parish is to help the community understand that stewardship is basically making a fundamental commitment to work with God in our whole lives.
At the risk of over simplifying an important and very rich subject the following are a few of the key points.
A steward is one who carefully and responsibly manages entrusted resources or delegated authority on behalf of the interests of another -- the Master.
A steward in the ancient world was a master slave
who acted in the master’s name and managed the master’s affairs. But he wasn’t the master. Christian stewardship, then, is working with God to responsibly manage all of our God-given resources.
If you were chief steward on a ship, you would be in charge of supervising the maintenance and operation of the galley and living and eating quarters of the officers and crew. You would also keep a record of all meals served on board.
If you belonged to the Forest Stewardship Council, then you would be in charge of developing forest management standards to maintain our forests throughout the world.
The term stewardship basically means the careful, responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care… for greatest output/return… for a purpose. It refers to delegated authority to be practiced on behalf of the interests of another. It is about the way we live in relationship to God and the world. Stewardship is a complete lifestyle, a life of total accountability and responsibility acknowledging God as Creator and Owner of all.
Each and every person made in the image of God is placed on this earth as a tenant, or in the words of St. Paul, a “sojourner.” If we are tenants, it is incumbent upon us to return what is not ours to the rightful Owner in a condition at least as good as we received it, if not better.
Time Talent and Treasure
We recognize that giving belongs to God's very being. When we give freely and generously, we act as God acts. We are sharing in the work of God. Often the breadth of this giving back is thought of in terms of time, talent and treasure. These are good elements to focus on but true Christian stewardship is even broader -- a commitment of our entire life.
As Christians we acknowledge God as Creator and Owner of all and that none of our words, actions, powers or properties are our own, to do with as we please. We receive them from God. We possess them – but they are not really ours. The resources we enjoy – and from which we give – are ours only by derivation. All blessings flow from God.
Since God is creator and owner, when we give to the church and others, we are only gratefully, joyfully giving back to God what already belongs to Him. We’re not the owners — we’re the borrowers.