Stewardship involves all we do – with all we have – all the time, including recognizing that everything good we have in this life comes to us through grace and understanding that we have been appointed stewards to care creation.
Stewardship is a vocation to which we are all called. Stewardship is a way of life that involves:
- Care of creation, our environment, and natural resources
- Care of our fellow human beings
- Care of our selves – our bodies, minds, and souls
The scriptural foundations of stewardship are found in the first chapter of Genesis:
- God is the Creator
- God created everything (resources, insight, energy)
- Everything belongs to God (Psalm 24)
- God appointed us stewards over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.
Stewardship is our calling
Stewardship is an essential part of our human identity. Through the faithful practice of stewardship, we acknowledge our relationship to God as the source of life and blessing. This spiritual practice grows out of an understanding of God’s generosity, gratitude, a sense of abundance, and our role as stewards.
The annual church pledge drive is one aspect of stewardship. Christians are encouraged to return a proportion of what they have been given to the work of God. The Episcopal church holds the “tithe” as the Biblical standard for proportionate giving. A tithe has been defined as a tenth of one’s income. The Bible teaches that giving should be of the “first fruits” of one’s labors. Translated into today’s terms, that means a donation check, whatever the amount, should be written before bills are paid, not after. The concept of giving of the “first fruits” of one’s work is mentioned in more than 20 passages of scripture.
How to plan your giving
Christian stewardship leaders generally suggest that those who wish to tithe should begin with a low percentage of net or gross income, and work towards meeting a full tithe over a defined period of time. The practice and discipline of regular giving is more important than the amount.
Proportionate giving, or the tithe, however, is only one aspect of stewardship. We are also called to give our time and talent to care for God’s creation. This can take many forms, including volunteering to change your lifestyle to cause less harm on the environment. It could mean you use your skills or relationships to advocate for just policies or help the plight of those in need.
How will you incorporate the practice of stewardship into your life over the coming year? How will you respond to the abundance and blessings in your life? How will you live into your role as a steward of creation? Could you reduce your waste, water usage or consumption by 10%? Could you commit to walking 10,000 steps a day? Could you commit to giving 10 minutes a day to prayer or meditation? Could you consider becoming a proportionate giver working toward the tithe? Please pray about these kinds of pledges, and consider how you will live into your vocation as a steward of God’s creation.