Adult Faith
Reflections or Answers to Questions

Becoming a Good Steward

What is a "good" steward?

What is a steward?
A steward is one responsible for managing what is given to them in such a way as to represent the will of the one who gave the responsibility.  A good steward is one who is faithful in their responsibilities.
What is responsibility?  Ultimately, it is living as we are called to live by God so as to reflect God.  We are being responsible when we receive love and offer this love as God calls us to love.  This is a proper response of being a good steward.  In short, once we receive the love of God, we become responsible beings, responsible stewards.  The more we receive of this love, the more responsible we become.
Why? Responsibility then is a gift of love, the love is reciprocated to God and to others as He wills.
To the degree that we understand and live as good stewards, the more we will be given (let me emphasize God’s love here). This is how I understand the parable of the 10 Talents in Sacred Scripture. (Mt. 25:14-30)

How do I understand being a good steward in a practical way? 
First we need to realize that we have been loved first by God (1 John 4:19), even in our sins and so we must love in return (in purity or in a state of grace) by putting God and others before ourselves. We have been forgiven much and so we must forgive much. (Luke 7:47)  This goes hand and hand with the concept and requirement that we have been given much and so we must give much.  For example, we have been given the Kingdom and so we must give the Kingdom. Christ is the King of this Kingdom and so all we have to give is Christ and His Kingdom to others, nothing more, because there is nothing more. With respect to what God gives, our giving is really nothing.  However, in God's graciousness, He gives us credit or merit when we give charitably.  God desires this from us and emphasizes it by incorporating charitable giving into an equation that teaches us how love is reciprocated.  In this sense, giving is vital to our mission in Christ's kingdom on earth while also being an important dimension of eternal life. 

So how should we understand giving?  
We should understand it as an opportunity to love.  When we give knowing this, we better experience Christ who is the true giver.  It is an opportunity for Christ to work in and through us.  It may be something as simple as making dinner for our family or guests.  There is nothing like seeing the joy of those receiving a meal that we offer from the labors of our love.  When we give with love, we gain much!  We could even do something a little more sacrificial such as visiting a friend in the hospital or listening to one in need when our schedules don't permit it.  It could also be seen in heroic giving where we give our total heart to God in an unconditional way as martyred saints have in giving their life to Christ (with love) rather than denying Him. On a personal note, for someone who is much less that a saint, I find more often than not that Christ teaches me a great lesson in love when I think I am giving a lot and He reveals how much more I internally receive. Additionally, when Christ does this, He illuminates how little my giving truly is in comparison to what I receive and does this with a very humble, gentle, and loving embrace.  I have yet to be able to put a price tag value on those experiences because they truly are priceless.  I realize they are priceless because I see Christ in His giving through me and I am truly humbled.

We are stewards of Christ!
As stewards of Christ, we are challenged to discern how we have responded or need to respond to God’s wonderful gifts.  The question becomes, "Are we being responsible or irresponsible in our lives."  The fact is, we all will have to one day answer before God because He expects His gifts to be fruitful in and through us (Mt. 18:32, 1 Cor. 3:9-15).   Because our stewardship has everlasting consequences (heaven/hell), it is important to learn and participate with those who are taking their journey serious.  

The parish community is the body of Christ.
We should consider ways that we can participate in Christ’s love by becoming more connected to our parish family (home), even if we struggle with some aspects of it.  We should have faith that our contributions of love will be perfected by Christ, making a better home in our church.  Being involved in our parish helps Christ develop our hearts in such a way that we are able to receive more love and offer more love.  How wonderful it is when a parish grows in love due to the labor of a few.  If only the whole parish, the whole world were set on fire in the love of Christ! (Luke 12:31-32, Luke 12:49). Participating in Christ is simply becoming more educated about His love (such as bible studies or faith groups) and applying it by offering our hearts to others, by being present to those in need, praying for them, or offering them other ways of help.  When we do this, we experience a true connection between giving and receiving.  This connection sparks an on going discovery of how our hearts receive (True) love and offer to God and others this love.  Christ has designed this to be the very mission of each Christian. We live out His mission for us by "loving" out our mission.  God is so gracious, He always keeps our hearts growing when we are faithful to His mission. 

Growth in Christ is difficult.
Personally, I must admit that during this process, I have discovered His Cross more intimately. Christ's passion becomes a lesson of love best understood in virtue.  This is difficult because I must let Christ dismantle the vice in my life (such as letting go of pride and selfishness), and receive it as a lesson of virtue (such learning humility and patience).  I can understand why many lose courage and simply walk away in order to find their "comfort zone."  If only they knew this is only a false reality of denying who we are called to be as servants of love. Christ gave us the totality of Himself through the Cross and He expects us to do the same with our daily crosses (discomforts, trials, etc. Mt. 16:24-6). We are called to be continually transformed in a oneness with Christ.  Modeling Christ's teachings and actions, including His Cross, is the path to His Heart for all to embrace.  Thus, faithful stewardship is living this true path and offering it to others in loves embrace. 

Conversion is ongoing.
Lastly, We must understand that we are on a continual daily road to discovery.  Conversion is not a one time thing.  Conversion is a process of losing ourselves and tranforming into the Body of Christ.  If only we knew how truly priceless it is to be able to give and receive.  We would be deeply humbled each time we give and receive while realizing it is a total operation of Christ in our life.  After all, who can claim to do anything without God? (John 15:4-5)  Become a steward of Christ today and receive Him as He Wills you to receive Him.  Live as He Wills you to live.  Die as He Wills you to die.  Receive His Love for eternity as He Wills you to receive His Love for eternity.  Pray that we may no longer exist in this world but only Christ who lives in us (Gal. 2:20).

By Chris Foeldi