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THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: The true meaning of stewardship

01/21/2022 | Comments

During my life, the notion of “stewardship” has become very important for me. I am not talking about money. Stewardship is about spirituality and how to properly understand our relationship with God. I am talking about the basic and fundamental belief that everything is a gift of God.   

The beating of my heart, the life within me, the parents to whom I was given, and the day in which we currently live and move and have our being. All belong to God. All are gifts of God.

When I became utterly convicted of this truth, I soon realize that it is not “my life.” Since everything is a gift of God, everything belongs to God. Suddenly I realize that my life does not belong to me. And since my life does not belong to me, then the life that I live is not about me. In other words: my life belongs to God. My life must be about God. 

Here is a proper understanding of stewardship. The life we experience is a gift of God; therefore, we are to be stewards or caretakers of this life. Stewardship means that I take care of something that belongs to someone else. Bishop Carl Kemme of Wichita says, “There is nothing we have — nothing — that is not a gift. Everything we are and everything we have is founded in the loving generosity of the Creator. When we know this, not just in our minds but in the depths of our hearts, then life takes on a whole new meaning. Then we have a whole different perspective about our time or our talents or our treasure, our bodies, our minds, hearts — everything that we are and everything that we have — takes on a completely different perspective.”

As we have recently experienced the Christmas season, I want to reflect briefly on how the Christmas story can shed light on our efforts to accept stewardship as a way of life. God could have chosen a number of different ways to enter into our lives, but the way God did it revealed incredible generosity.

The magi followed the star bringing some of their treasures with them to give to the newborn king. These magi didn’t know much about Judaism or the Jewish Messiah. They didn’t even know where to find him so they had to ask for directions. They only had limited knowledge but they knew the basics: you give a king the best of what you have.

The shepherds didn’t give their money to the king but they gave their time. They knew exactly what was happening as the angelic visitors revealed it to them. They stopped doing what they were doing and responded by going to see. They put aside their time for the king.

Joseph was betrothed to Mary. We don’t know much about Joseph but we marvel at how he accepted a pregnant fiancé! Joseph was ready to divorce Mary quietly, but the angelic dream convinced him otherwise. He gave up his reputation for this king. For the rest of his life, he would be misunderstood by many. He looked like a fool. He willingly followed the ways of God regardless what the neighbors might think. God is worth more than our reputation.

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He shows us what it looks like to give one’s whole life to God.  Mark 10:45 says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus came to offer himself completely on our behalf. Jesus entered human history for one purpose: to give his very life.

Finally, God the Father shows us the highest form of generosity in the Christmas story. The most difficult thing to give away is whatever is most precious to you. This might be a possession, a dream, a mate or a child. That’s the sacrifice God made. Jesus gave his life, but God gave his own precious Son.

Do you notice a progression in this story? Some gave their possessions or their time. Others were asked to give much more. All, other than God himself, gave as a response to God’s love, purposes and calling.

During these coming weeks, we hope to become a small mirror of the generosity of God. If you decide to offer more of your life back to God, it can radically change not only your life but also the world.

I pray you have a blessed New Year of 2022.

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