Stewardship: A Way of Life
Stewardship begins with a profound recognition that God has lovingly given us our home, this world, and all that we possess and all that we are.
What is Stewardship?
Imagine if you were homeless and someone gave you a new home for free. You would receive that gift so gratefully, recognising that this person must care for you deeply. You would probably call that person to mind each time you returned home - especially on wet and cold nights! You would look after this precious gift. If you encountered others in need of shelter, you may reflect on what you had received and offer to house them as well. You may even look for ways to increase housing in your local area.
This gives us a taste of what stewardship is about. Stewardship begins with a profound recognition that God has lovingly given us our home, this world, and all that we possess and all that we are. We are so loved and precious in God's eyes! As with any precious gift, stewardship then calls us to cultivate the gift of our own lives, talents, and world responsibly. However, we could do that and just keep the goodness to ourselves. Stewardship recognises that if we have received these free gifts out of God's goodness then we are called to share them lovingly in justice with others. And when we do share, we don't offer the leftovers but return what we have been given with increase to our God.
- A way of life
- A way of thanking God for all His blessings by returning a portion of the time, talent and treasure allotted to us
- Based on Scripture, both Old and New Testament (for example: 19 of 36 parables deal with stewardship)
- A spiritual way of life that leads to conversion and a deeper relationship with Jesus
- Based on the fact that God has given each of us a talent or talents to do certain things well
- Giving the first fruits of our time, talent and treasure, not what is left over
Stewardship is NOT:
- Based solely on the Church's need to receive but on the individual's need to give in thanksgiving
- Limited to treasure but has an equal focus on time and talent
- A gimmick to raise funds or recruit volunteers
- Limited to the church but also includes the wider community
Stewardship is a way of life in which we realise that each is called to be a Christian steward who:
- receives God's gifts gratefully
- cultivates them responsibly
- shares them lovingly in justice with others
- and returns them with increase to the Lord
How can I live out Stewardship?
Stewardship is not a program we join up to. In reading the description above, you will recognise that we are already called to elements of stewardship. Indeed, any of us who take seriously the call to be a disciple act out of stewardship principles. Stewardship gives us a useful way of describing the way we are to live out our baptismal vocation, our life in Christ.
There are some great resources that can help guide us to live out our stewardship more fully - in our home, school, workplace, parish community and in our response to justice and environmental concerns.
What is a Stewardship Parish?
Any parish exercising good discipleship is already living out stewardship principles. A stewardship parish wishes to explicitly follow stewardship as a way of life and commits itself to this goal through its parish vision and planning.
a stewardship parish:
- identifies individual and community giftedness,
- praises God for what we have received, and
- shares time, talent, and treasure for the good of others, as an expression of our praise for God.
How do parishes get started with implementing stewardship as a way of life?
The main objective of parish stewardship is to permeate parish life and activity so that the faithful recognise the call to be Christian stewards. There are as many responses to stewardship as there are parishes. Parishes which hold gift discernment gatherings, ministry fairs and call ups and show a strong sense of hospitality are displaying elements of the stewardship approach.
A Stewardship Prayer
you alone are the source of every good gift,
of the vast array of our universe, and the mystery of each human life.
We praise you and we thank you for your great power and your tender, faithful love.
Everything we are and everything we have is your gift,
and after having created us you have given us into the keeping of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Fill our minds with his truth and our hearts with his love,
that in his Spirit we may be bonded together into a community of faith, a parish family, a caring people.
In the Name and Spirit of Jesus, we commit ourselves to be good stewards of the gifts entrusted to us, to share our time, our talent and our material gifts as an outward sign of the Treasure we hold in Jesus.
Support and Information is Available
Our Diocesan Stewardship Support Committee aims to work with parishes, schools and others in both starting out and continuing the stewardship way of life. Diocesan Stewardship gatherings are held during the year to assist in networking and support. For further information please contact Richard McMahon, Office of the Bishop on 02 4253 0976.