Stewardship, quite simply, is recognizing that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God and being grateful and generous with those gifts.
We aren’t “owners” of anything, we are merely “stewards” of the gifts that God has given us.
Stewardship isn’t a process, or a campaign, or an accounting of our gifts. Rather, it is a lifestyle rooted in gratitude and generosity.
The whole point of stewardship is to help each other strengthen our relationship with God and get to Heaven!
The foundation of stewardship is prayer – talking and listening to God every day, throughout the day.
Stewardship means putting complete trust in God, in all things.
Stewardship means sharing all our gifts, especially that one that means the most to you.
By sharing our gifts, it helps us keep God first in everything, from putting other “gods” before God. It helps us live “God-centered” lives and not “self-centered” lives.
Of all the gifts that God gives us, the one he wants the most is our heart. He wants us to share out of love, not out of obligation.
When we align our thoughts and actions with God’s plan and use our gifts in the way God intended, our lives become transformed with Joy, Love, Mercy and Peace!
An Attitude of Gratitude Most people are aware of the concept of Stewardship – recognizing everything we have is a gift from God, being grateful, developing our gifts and generously sharing with others. But how do we practice this in everyday life?
Invest in your prayer life – give TIME to God
· Pray to God frequently throughout the day, every day. Designate specific times and keep your appointment with God
· Talk and listen to God.
· Jesus taught us to pray ‐ “Our Father who art in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9‐10)
Become willing to help others – share your TALENT
· Participate in parish activities, ministries and organizations
. Accept responsibility for helping others.
· “For we are God’s co‐workers.” (1 Corinthians 3:9)
Be generous with your financial gifts – offer your TREASURE
· Generously return a portion of the money you have earned
· Give cheerfully, without expecting anything in return.
· “He who sows bountifully will reap bountifully…for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6‐7)
Stewardship isn’t some exclusive club. Everyone is a steward. But living a stewardship lifestyle isn’t easy. It requires a change that opens our hearts. It is a true conversion that means we:
· Make room for the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
· Recognize other “gods” in our lives (job, money, power, ego) and put God first.
· Stop complaining about what we don’t have and be grateful for the gifts you have been given.
· Decrease dependence on “me” (the belief that I must make things happen) and increase trust in God.
· Admit things don’t always go according to our schedule and that God’s plan is always better.
· Detach ourselves from material goods and money.
Stewardship isn’t a program to entice people to give more money – it’s a lifestyle of generously sharing our gifts. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be stewards of the gifts we have been given. It is that simple, bold, but simple!
The cornerstone of Stewardship is prayer. Without prayer, we may be good volunteers or donors, but we are not good stewards!
Stewardship requires action. Past generations built the Church. It is our responsibility to develop and nurture our gifts for future generations. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary.”
Stewardship isn’t easy, but it has tremendous rewards ‐ Love, Peace and Joy on earth and eternal life in heaven!
Question: When you stand before God and He asks what you have done with the gifts he has given you; how will you respond?
Please consider how you may be able to share your Time, Talent and Treasure to help advance the mission of our parish.
Also, please share these thoughts with just one other person and invite them to attend Mass, join one of the many parish organizations or give generously to our parish
Stewardship Is Good for Children
Just as the stewardship way of life is a fulfilling and joyful lifestyle for adults, it is also a very good lifestyle to teach our children. Consider the benefits:
- Stewardship can help build self-esteem. The advertisements that children hear in the commercial world often carry the underlying, subtle message that you are not good enough the way you are and therefore you need to acquire this product or that product to make you acceptable. In church kids need to hear a different message. They need to hear that God has already blessed them with all the gifts and talents that they will need. In fact, God has given them an abundance of good things and they have enough to share.
- Stewardship can make children happier. Unfortunately, in today’s world, children are bombarded with materialistic messages that often lead to a sense of entitlement and to frustration and dissatisfaction with life. In contrast, stewardship encourages an attitude of gratitude. Experts tell us that children usually form their attitudes about sharing sometime between the ages of 6 and 10. They will either develop an entitlement attitude – “The world owes me.” “I don’t have enough.” Or a stewardship attitude – “I have been blessed.” “I am happy to share.” It is impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. As we count our blessings, we naturally find a sense of peace and contentment.
- Stewardship helps children set priorities. As children learn that they are called to give back something to God they also learn that they must let go of some of their own wants. Stewardship teaches children the difference between needs and wants. Children learn to concentrate on their blessings rather than on what they want.
- Stewardship prepares children for their adult role in the Church. Children need to learn that stewardship is not just a service project that they must do before they can be confirmed or graduate. Stewardship is a way of life. It is the way a good Christian lives every day of every year.
Understanding the Basic Stewardship Concepts for Children
Efforts to teach stewardship and giving to children are most successful if you concentrate on five basic concepts. The five concepts are:
1. Help children see that God has given them many blessings.
(This also teaches good self-esteem.)
- Challenge children to make a list of all God’s gifts to them. There is no wrong answer! Everything is a gift from God.
- Regularly complement children on their special gifts – simple things like nice handwriting, pretty smile, nice coat to keep you warm, etc. Remind them that this special gift is a blessing from God and offer an idea on how they can be grateful or share that gift with someone else.
- Encourage children to recognize their talents and the talents of other people in their lives. Every talent does not have to be star quality. Talents can be simple – such as strong to carry a box, smart to help someone with homework, a good listener for someone with a problem.
2. Teach children to be grateful to God for the blessings He has given us.
(This also teaches an overall sense of gratitude and a positive outlook on life. It helps kids see that the cup is half full rather than half empty.)
- Make it a practice to ask children daily to name something for which they are thankful.
- Ask children to write a prayer of thanks to God.
- Have children write a thank-you letter to God, telling Him why His gifts are so special to them and what the child will do with those gifts. This could be a good birthday or Christmas practice, when children might be writing other thank-you notes, too.
- Help children to see that God has given them blessings to share. Discuss the poor and needy. Talk about how God has trusted us to use our gifts to help those who have less.
- Read the Judgment of the Nations (Matthew 25:31-46) together. Discuss all the ways people are in need, and what children could do to help.
- Encourage children to think about and pray for those in need.
3. Show children how stewardship has built our Church.
(This also teaches appreciation and responsibility for our Church.)
- Tell children the history of the parish and the role stewardship played in building up the parish as it is today.
- Tour parish facilities looking for signs of stewardship.
- Talk with children about the building up of the Church throughout the world and the role stewardship played in the cathedrals, hospitals, schools and churches that we have today.
- Talk with children about the lives of saints and the ways they were good stewards. In most cases children will learn that it was how people used their time, talent or treasure for God that earned the person the title of “Saint.”
4. Help children to recognize that stewardship is something we do all the time. It is how we live our lives. Every decision we make about how we use our time or treasure is a stewardship decision.
(This also teaches good time management and budgeting.)
- Encourage children to keep a record of their time – How much time do they give to God in prayer? How much time do they spend learning – developing knowledge and talents they can use later for God? How much time do they spend helping others? How much time do they spend taking care of themselves, so they are strong and healthy for God’s work? How much time do they waste?
- Talk about shopping decisions; about how we can waste money when others need it. Discuss the concept of the tithe – of giving 10% back to God. Discuss the difference between something we need and something we want. We may need soccer shoes to be part of the team – but having the most expensive or popular brand is only a “want” not a “need.”
5. Help children recognize the joy that comes from stewardship.
(This also helps students realize that real happiness cannot be found in possessions.)
- Have children discuss how they feel when they help someone else.
- Share your own good feelings about helping and giving.
- Invite a young volunteer to talk to your children about their volunteer experiences.
**Reprinted with permission from the Archdiocese of St Louis.