“Oriented Leadership: Why All Christian’s Need It” Excerpt by Benjamin D. Williams and Michael T. McKibben
We are each ordained by God to be stewards of His spiritual gifts, seen and unseen, material and immaterial, physical and mystical. Stewardship within the Church is not just limited to the building or to financial offerings. A good steward is concerned with the optimal use of all the gifts, talents, and responsibilities of the organization placed in his or her charge. This means that a caring attitude cannot be limited to some aspects at the expense of others. A good steward’s decisions and actions must reflect a caring for the entire body from the least to the greatest within it. Good stewardship is an inclusive way of life. It includes the loving treatment of and care for others. It includes giving to the poor. It includes financial support of the Church. If we have a Christian understanding of stewardship, and if we are good stewards, then all of these elements are part of our lives.
So then, how do we live as stewards? One of the counsels of St. Anthony is perhaps the most practical and cuts through all of the mixed motives: “Indeed, if we too live as if we were to die each new day, we shall not sin…When we awaken each day, we should think that we shall not live till evening; and again, when about to go to sleep we should think that we shall not awaken…If we are so disposed and live our daily life accordingly, we shall not commit sin, nor lust after anything, nor bear a grudge against anyone, nor lay up treasures on earth…” Nor, we might add, will we be anything less than good stewards!
If we understand stewardship properly, then living as stewards will become our vocation. And this vocation, this higher calling, will experience and encounter life in all its facets – its joys and its sorrows, its victories, and its setbacks. We can muster the courage and strength to travel on this stewardship journey because “God is with us.” Good stewardship brings joy into the lives of others, helps those in need, enables those who desire to improve, loves and cares for the people in our lives, cares for God’s creation, supports the Church financially, participates in the sacramental life of the Church, teaches and guides others, nurtures the gifts which God has given us. All of these factors are qualities of good stewardship. If practiced well, all of these qualities can become normal parts of life.
How might we describe “stewardship in action?” The following list is adapted from one prepared by Ron Nicola:
1. Stewardship is learning how to be a responsible and concerned caretaker of Christ’s Church; it is learning how to enjoy Church life and be happy in Church work, for in Her dwells the fullness of the Spirit of God.
2. Stewardship is our active commitment to use all our time, talent, and treasure for the benefit of humankind in grateful acknowledgment of Christ’s redeeming love.
3. Stewardship is caring for the needs of others.
4. Stewardship is offering one’s self to God as He offered Himself to us.
5. Stewardship is what a person does after saying “I Believe…”, as proof of that belief.
6. Stewardship is devotion and service to God and His Church as persons, as families, as deaneries, as diocese, as national Church, and as the Church universal.
Perhaps we could summarize the points just mentioned this way: Christian stewardship is a life in service to God and His Church motivated by our thankfulness for His love to us “… in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is the wise and proper use of all the gifts God has entrusted to our care.
As Christians, we must get the message that stewardship is a way of life. And even though our stewardship should be founded on a set of tested eternal Truths, we are nonetheless free to pursue its local incarnation. That is, while we faithfully adhere to the Holy Traditions entrusted to us, we must also traverse the path of freedom in the Holy Spirit which guides us to be the stewards that “we are called to be.” An underlying necessity is a shared vision of stewardship, a shared worldview which enables us to be effective stewards. Our stewardship is the direct expression of who we are in Christ. Because we are free in Christ, we are free to be stewards. Because we are free in Christ, we are free to give. The willingness to give of oneself and one’s possessions is the true mark of freedom. It is being true to our Orthodoxy.
What then are the essential elements of stewardship? Ron Nicola proposes the following list, which we have adapted:
1. Acceptance of the belief that all life and life itself is a gift from God.
2. Freedom to choose not to sin and freedom from the constraints, pressures and temptations of the world which smother the expression of this belief.
3. Life in the Spirit which is characterized by behavior that uses and nurtures the time, talents, and treasure entrusted to us by God.
To learn more please contact us, we look forward to having you join us!