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What is Stewardship? – How To Live A Lifestyle of Charitable Giving

When I moved to Atlanta and started going to my current church, I wanted to get involved by joining a ministry. As it so happened, they were holding a ministry fair, and I decided to check it out. I walked around and looked at all the booths to see where I would best fit. I passed the choir booth, but I couldn’t sing. I passed the quilting booth, but I couldn’t sew. Around and around I went, but I didn’t really feel like there was a place for me.

I began to get discouraged. I was brought up to believe that giving of one’s time and talents is an essential way build character and help the community. As I walked around, someone came up to me and asked me what I was looking for. I told them about my predicament, and explained how firmly I believed in giving of my time. Their response was, “You sound perfect for the Stewardship Committee!” And my reply was, “Stewardship…what’s that?”

What Is Stewardship?

There are various intentions of the word stewardship. However, I describe it as a responsibility for any blessings you may have. Your blessings could include your talents, time, or financial freedom. If you are responsible with these blessings, it means that you care for and share them with others.

Although stewardship is generally a religious term, I believe all people can live a life of stewardship. After all, we live only briefly in this world, and our possessions won’t come with us when we leave. It is up to us to care for what we have, when we have it.

When I think of stewardship, there are three main categories that help me to understand how I can act as a good steward:

  1. Treasure – We must share our financial success with those who have less than we do.
  2. Talent – A good steward shares his or her talents in order to benefit others.
  3. Time – Our time is one of our most valuable possessions. A good steward dedicates some of his or her spare time in order to do good.

By giving of our treasure, talent, and time, we are good stewards of what we are so fortunate to have received. Whether you believe you received them from a higher power or more basic human circumstance, you are a unique individual with your own special set of skills and talents that can be used to help others.

What Are The Characteristics Of Being A Good Steward?

1. Give Always
Whether you are at your workplace, church, the mall, with your family, or out somewhere in your community, a good steward gives. At work, volunteer to do a task that no one else wants to do (this is a good way to get a raise or job promotion anyway). At the mall, let the mother with the crying baby cut in line at checkout. At home, serve your family by putting them first: help out with chores (even the ones you’re not assigned on the weekly house cleaning schedule), support others emotionally, and always say thank you. Even when it comes to your finances, consider fitting giving into your monthly budget.

2. Be Joyful
If you give your time, money, or talent with an open heart, you will experience joy. Not only will you receive joy, but also all those who benefit from your gift will feel joy as well. If you lack joy, you are only giving out of obligation. When you give, know you are doing something good and worthy.

3. Remember All Is Temporary
Sometimes I get very consumed with acquiring stuff, especially in our society where many people are addicted to things like consumer electronics. Humans are naturally materialistic because we live in such a tangible world.

But when I truly think about it, it seems that all my efforts are worthless. What is the point of acquiring stuff and being the best? I hope my children will remember me because I am a good person, not because I have money or talent.

How Do We Become Good Stewards?

I don’t believe that you can wake up one day and decide that you want to become a more generous person. You need to really plan and prepare yourself for that type of lifestyle. You must get to know yourself and understand your talents so that you know how you can reasonably give of yourself and in what ways. Here are some tips to get you started in that process.

1. Plan
Just as you would sit down and plan out a budget, you need to sit down and plan a stewardship budget of your time and talent. Hopefully you already include treasure in your financial budget. Make a stewardship budget every year, and then review it each month to see how you are doing. Are you becoming the person you want to be?

2. Know Your Purpose
You have to be deliberate in your decision to live a life of stewardship. To do that, know your purpose. Are you doing this to better yourself, your community, and the future for your children? If you are spiritual, are you doing this for the benefit of your soul? Remember your purpose because it will keep you motivated and help you stop procrastination while practicing effective time management skills and techniques. This will also guide you in the ways you should give.

Tip: Don’t spread yourself too thin. My friend once told me she imagines herself as a water pitcher being poured out into cups. She pictures herself filling up a few cups completely instead of putting one drop in many.

3. Stay Balanced
Would you like to act as a good steward? That’s great! However, don’t overdo it. There is only so much we can give of ourselves. Examine your obligations and needs, and decide how much of your time, talent, and treasure you can reasonably share. Do you want to tithe, even if you are still getting out of debt? Can you want to commit a certain number of hours a week to volunteer?

Final Word

Remember that becoming a good steward is not only a lifestyle, but also a lifelong process. Start small and work your way up. If you make it your New Year’s resolution to become a good steward, think of one way to give of your time, another way for your talent (or combine it with your time), and one way to give of your treasure. If you start small, there is a better chance for success.

After I learned a little bit about stewardship, I decided to join the Stewardship Committee at my church in order to inspire others in the congregation to become better stewards. By doing so, I hope I am becoming a better steward myself.

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.
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