Stewardship is rooted in scripture, recognizing we, as individuals, are not owners of our lives but rather are stewards or managers. Stewardship, quite simply, is recognizing that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God and being grateful and generous with those gifts.
God reveals His perfect and infinite love for us most visibly in His Son, Jesus Christ. A steward makes God’s love visible by imitating Jesus. As the United States Bishops wrote in their Pastoral Letter, “Stewardship is the Response of the Disciple to God’s unconditional love for us.” Stewards bask in the wonder and awe of God’s Love. The more deeply one grows in love for God, the more one grows in heart to see stewardship as a way of life. Stewards see everything good as gifts received from God and they respond in gratitude with the gift of self.
The Sacrament of Baptism calls Christians to a lifelong vocation of discipleship as Children of God made in His Image and Likeness. We are called as disciples to follow Jesus, to grow in holiness by the graces God showers upon us. As recipients of God’s loving grace, our hearts leap with Gratitude. “How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” (Psalm 116:12).
To imitate the love of Jesus Christ is a most challenging task. In our human nature, this is not possible. Yet, we have not first loved God. God first loved us. By opening our hearts to receive the gift of God’s love, we begin to love in a way that transcends our human nature. This call to love is not just a feeling of love, but rather, it is a decision to love. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13:7). The disciple perseveres to love through all stages of life. To love may be very difficult at some stages and easier at others. But we do not walk this journey of life alone. Without question, Jesus’ model and commandment was to love and grow in holiness. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 14: 34-35).
Stewardship is a conversion journey of receiving God’s love and returning love to Him. A conversion requires prayer, reflection, and time to allow God to show us who we are and the person of love that we can become. Throughout the conversion experience, the disciple yearns to change and grow into the person God created them to be – a steward uniquely His own, but united in one Body through Jesus Christ. Stewardship transforms lives because of its love, and it is in this transformation process and conversion journey towards love that we give new life to the Church. “If you wish to come after me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. For if you wish to save your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake you will save it.” (Luke 9: 23-24)
The famous Christian author, C.S. Lewis, once wrote, “A person whose hands are full of parcels cannot receive a gift.” Today, one of the spiritual evils facing our nation is a growing materialism and consumerism. When one holds so tightly to material possessions, one cannot receive the spiritual gifts that God wishes to give to His beloved children. God transforms a steward beyond mere human kindness to a love of sacrifice and detachment, enabling the steward to continually receive God’s gifts. When a steward loves God above treasured earthly possessions, God provides the grace for the steward to love to an even greater depth. This depth of love is a growth in holiness. This is one of the joyful rewards of a stewardship way of life.
In the deepening conversion of love, the steward learns to give of self through time, talent and treasure, not out of obligation and duty, but out of sincere desire. The steward recognizes within the very nature of the human person, an inherent need to give. For the steward, this way of life and giving of love becomes as natural as breathing itself.
The conversion to stewardship as a way of life is a journey of the individual, the family, the parish, the diocese and the Universal Church. What makes such conversion possible? As stated above, it is God’s love for us that lies at the heart of such conversion. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16). It is God’s desire that we have life. Jesus came to give life and to give it abundantly, (cf. John 10:10). Jesus Christ is the foundation of the stewardship way of life. He is the capstone of the structure.
With Jesus as the foundation, certain elements, such as hospitality, prayer, formation and service, referred to as “The Pillars of Parish Stewardship” need to be in place within the parish structure enabling parishioners to convert to a stewardship life through the giving of self in time, talent and treasure. Recognizing that this conversion is primarily a call from God made possible through grace He bestows upon us, the task of conversion to stewardship is part of our response to discipleship.
Together in our journey of faith, may God bless us and may we respond as faithful disciples – faithful stewards.
Adapted with permission of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas.
Time is the most limited resource we have. Once it has passed, we can’t get it back and we can’t make more. People often say that they “don’t have enough time” – but God gives us all the time that we need. We must ask ourselves: How am I choosing to use my time? Does it reflect my priorities? Am I intentional about putting down technology to have an uninterrupted conversation with God in prayer? How about with my family? What is one thing I can do today to be more generous with the time with which God has blessed me?
Every skill, talent, and ability is a gift from God. He doesn’t give them to us to keep for ourselves, but to bless others and build His kingdom. Our talents are God’s gift to us, what we do with them is our gift to God.
Our call to practice Stewardship of Talent is an invitation to discern where and how the Spirit is calling us to serve. God has given each of us unique skills and abilities to share. As our talents develop and circumstances change, we listen to how God is calling us to use our gifts. But no matter what, He is calling each one of us!
Treasure might be the word most often associated with stewardship. Unfortunately, many reduce this beautiful spirituality to just a “nice way to ask for money.” It’s important to remember that stewardship encompasses everything, so of course our finances are included! We don’t get upset with stewardship in the context of time and talent, so why is it that feathers are often ruffled at the first mention of treasure?
Money has a way of taking hold of us, but Jesus warns that we cannot serve both God and wealth (Matthew 6:24). The giving of our money is a manifestation of our values and beliefs. God blesses us with the talents we use to earn our money. Out of gratitude for what we have been given, we give back to God. It’s a sacrifice. When we make a sacrifice, we offer something of value to God, which makes it holy. Yes, when set apart for the work of God, our money is made holy! No one can serve two masters. Which do you serve?
Every individual has useful and unique gifts necessary to the work of God in and through the Church; all gifts are precious and necessary in the life of the Church. Discover your own personal God-given talents.
You can take the Spiritual Gifts Inventory here
The Office of Spirituality and Formation for Ministry also offers the materials to host a Spiritual Gifts Retreat
We know it’s enough when we can no longer make excuses about the size of our gift, how we spend our time, or the ways that we use our talents. It should be sacrificial. We must be sincere and able to say that we are being honest with God and with ourselves. Stewards are joyful people! Take time to reflect on God’s blessings with gratitude and look for the presence of both peace and joy throughout the journey of stewardship.
Stewardship is a way of life, not a program. Rooted in scripture and flowing from discipleship, stewardship allows us to recognize that we, as individuals, are not owners of our lives but rather are stewards or managers. Stewardship, quite simply, is recognizing that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God and being grateful and generous with those gifts.
Stewardship is the response of an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ. God uniquely designed each of us. We’ve been given exactly what we need to become the best versions of ourselves and to fulfill the mission of making disciples of all nations. We have been called to take care of the gifts we’ve been given and to share them with all.
Think stewardship is all about money? In this video from spiritual director Mike Van Vranken, learn the truth about stewardship and how becoming a true steward will open your life to a joy you never imagined!
This message isn’t just for young adults! Fr. Mike knows firsthand about all of the different types of parishioners who are on fire for the Faith, and want to do something for their parish. The ones who end up helping the most are those who in essence say, “I am your servant. Tell me what I can do for you.”
Prayer isn’t just a nice thing, prayer is a necessary thing. This advice points to the reality that if we have a busy day, we need to pray more—not less. We want to build great things for the Lord, but they must be built on a solid foundation of prayer and communication with God.
Prayer isn’t just another good thing to do; it’s absolutely necessary if we want to know God’s will in our lives and draw closer to him. The trouble is finding the time and willpower to pray. In this video, Fr. Mike Schmitz suggests being a bit more intentional in our prayer lives, asking these four simple questions: When should I pray, where should I pray, what should I pray, and why should I pray?