What is stewardship? Stewardship is often thought of as a gimmick to get people to give, kind of like money blessed with holy water. While the dictionary defines stewardship as “the individual’s responsibility to manage his life and property with proper regard to the rights of others,” the Christian definition involves each person’s responsibility to God for his or her time, talents and treasure. The faithful and wise steward is one who knows that his Master has set him/her in charge of His household and gives him/her his portion of food at the proper time (Luke 12:42).
Stewardship embraces a way of life and thus becomes a lifestyle. It calls upon us to realize we are not owners of our time, talent and treasure; rather, we are stewards, called upon by God to manage our gifts and being responsible to God, who entrusts them to us.
Often God and His church are awarded a minimum of our time, talent and treasure, while we do as we please with the rest. By so doing, God remains on the sideline of our lives, and we have no joy in what we do give.
Through faithful stewardship, God moves from the sideline to the center of life. To make this movement one must embrace the statement of Jesus: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” If we place God first in our lives and invest our treasure in Him, our heart will follow our treasure, resulting in joyful giving.
Ultimately, we should not give because the Church needs money to carry on its work, and we should not give because the church we attend needs a new roof or parking lot. This is charity. Instead, we give because we wish to express gratitude to our gracious, loving and giving God. Through faithful stewardship we express our gratitude to God for His countless blessings in our lives. We give because we wish to acknowledge practically, through concrete things such as our time, talent and treasure, that God comes first; that He deserves the first and best portion of all that we are and possess.
John Kaloudis is the director of the Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Stewardship and Development.