October 27, 2006

Practicing Stewardship

My last post touched on the topic of stewardship. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, this is the act of "managing another's property, finances, or other affairs". Stewardship is one of the great Christian gifts and greatest challenges; it is the sacrifice of taking care of something or someone - truly caring for something - that doesn't belong to you. We have all experienced this in some way - from the long-term and large-scale stewardship of managing a company or household down to the short-term and small-scale of watching someone's bag while they step away for a minute.

The challenge of stewardship is twofold. There is the risk of seeing the thing being managed as your own, of believing that by managing it well, you have taken possession of it. There is also the risk of recognizing that it is not yours and deciding not to manage it well or at all. Overcoming these risks is a challenge we should take up, however hard, as it is a way of exercising the virtue of charity. Jesus knew well the value of this - the necessity of this - and called each of us to take up a cross and follow Him.

Must we die for Christ to be good stewards? Some are called to the great sacrifice of bodily death for faith, but many are not. For most of us, the call is to die inside to something - to our pride, to greed, to fear - and carry our cross to the end. Each day, we can take another step with our cross - some are easy and aided by others, as Simon bore the cross for a time on the road to Calvary; some are difficult and we, like Christ, stumble on the way. Each day, we can decide to take that step or not, be it a small step - a seemingly insignificant help we can offer another person - or a large one, managing our home, our family, or our office well.

"stewardship." The American Heritage� Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 29 Oct. 2006. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/stewardship>

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