Sunday, September 12, 2010

Semi-Spiritual Sunday Snippet: Stewardship

Stewardship. It’s a churchy word.

Right up there with consecration, sacrament, covenant, vestibule, and of course, stewardship’s close-cousin, the tithe.

Somehow I doubt I’m the only one, but instead of stirring up the soul-bolstering underpinnings of those words’ definitions, reflexively, I tend to distance myself a bit, and wince a little. Instead, upon hearing the word “stewardship,” other words spring to my mind: obligation, inadequacy, resentment, inability, apprehension, pressure, guilt.

Thankfully, semantics are easily manipulated; and synonyms are amazing mood and perspective modifiers…helping those of us who are easily swayed toward the cynical response to access the more genuine, motivating morsel of meaning inherent in those words.

The reality is, stewardship is the behavior exhibited by a steward….someone responsible for---or entrusted with---the care of things valuable---be they animal, vegetable or mineral. For me, an applicable “real-world” non-churchy usage is to think of the stewards on an airplane…excluding that recent JetBlue flight attendant who perhaps rightly annoyed abandoned stewardship altogether by hastily grabbing a couple of beers and evacuating via the inflatable emergency chute!

In our day-to-day lives, we’re not all that unlike more typical, well-behaved airline stewards. For a designated—and largely determined by our own choice---window, we’re entrusted with an uncanny overflow of belongings. We’re responsible for our relationships with---as well as the safety and well-being of---the people in our immediate surroundings. We’re charged with making sure the essential-for-life needs of others---even strangers to us---are provided. We’re also well-educated on how to ensure our own safety, as well as that of others’, in case of an unexpected emergency.

And guess what? No matter how limited our personal snack cart may appear, no matter how tired we may be after a full day’s work, no matter how ungrateful or unknowing the recipients’ of our generosity may appear, we’ve got a job to do.

A major facet of our steward job description? While we’re busily committed to the sharing of our stuff, our time, our care, our energy---it’s understood, it’s expected, and it’s far more pleasurable to do so with a smile. Remember that memory verse from Sunday School "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). Make the logical transition from airline steward to giving member of a body of faith.

Survey the spectrum of possibilities for generosity in your daily surroundings. Money, obviously. Time, sure. Your ability to sing, to draw, to share, to cheer people up, to comfort, to garden, to organize, to mediate, to give good hugs, to send cards…do them all.

While we’re thinking outside the churchy lingo box, feel free to exceed 10%.

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1 comment:

tbonegrl said...

Thank you for this. Something I definitely needed to be reminded of today!