More Than a Buzzword

October 28, 2022  •   Tracy Earl Welliver

man putting cash into offering plate at church

If you roll your eyes at the mention of the term stewardship, it’s probably because, in the modern Church, stewardship has become something of a corporate buzzword. It’s often used interchangeably with the concepts of financial endowment and volunteerism.

What’s wrong with supporting your parish monetarily? What’s the issue with giving of your time in service and ministry? Nothing at all, in fact — we should all be doing more of these things.

But as we do them, we should be constantly asking ourselves the all-important questions: Why am I doing this? How am I doing this? For whom am I doing this?

A donation to the parish school is a great thing. But ideally, the donor would have made the gift regardless of the ability to name the school gym. A tireless volunteer who always finds time for her parish certainly glorifies God with her commitment. But hopefully, her commitment would be just as enthusiastic if she knew there was no prospect of being written up in the bulletin as Volunteer of the Month.

God knows no favorites. The prayer of the Pharisee in the temple did not justify him because the Pharisee didn’t really mean it as a prayer. His intent wasn’t to thank God, his intent was to draw attention to his gifts. God did not reject the Pharisee’s fasting and his tithes, he rejected the spirit in which they were offered.

God desires to transform us — our hearts, our souls, our communities. When we give of ourselves — either through money or through time — he is honored by the act of giving, not the gift itself. We should never make the mistake of thinking that stewardship is “time, talent, and treasure.” Stewardship is the spirit of offering these gifts freely.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

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