“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
1 Peter 4:10
Since the beginning of time, God has entrusted men and women to care for the Earth and everything on it. This stewardship of ours requires that we are intentional and faithful in our words, thoughts and actions so as to reveal His Kingdom in our midst.
We encounter countless examples of the call to be Christian Stewards in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Second Vatican Council and Popes reflect the Biblical call to live as prudent stewards. Here in America, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the landmark pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, in November 1992 to provide us with modern-day inspiration.
“Once one chooses to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, stewardship is not an option.” (Bishop John McRaith)
When you choose to become an intentional Disciple of Jesus Christ, you inevitably become an intentional Steward of the unique gifts God has entrusted to you. These spiritual and worldly gifts take the form of your time, your faith, hope and love, your knowledge, skills and talents, professional qualifications, your earnings and possessions – yes, your entire life.
We read in the stewardship pastoral letter that:
- Stewardship is all-encompassing. “It provides a place for the simplest individual gesture of kindness as well as stewardship communities working for systemic justice and peace.”
- Jesus’ call is urgent. He does not tell people to follow him at some time in the future but here and now – at this moment, in these circumstances.
- An oikonomos or steward is one to whom the owner of a household turns over responsibility for caring for the property, managing affairs, making resources yield as much has possible and sharing the resources with others. The position involves trust and accountability.
- Each has received a different “sum” – a unique mix of talents, opportunities, challenges, weaknesses and strengths, potential modes of service and response – on which the Master expects a return. He will judge individuals according to what they have done with what they were given.
- The success or failure of parish programs, the vitality of parish life or its absence, the ability or inability of a parish to render needed services to its members and the community depend upon all. Only by living as generous stewards of these local Christian communities, their parishes, can the Catholics of the United States hope to make them the vital sources of faith-filled dynamism they are meant to be.
How do Intentional Disciples build up the Church?
Each of us builds up the Church by returning a portion of God’s gifts of time and talent through parish and diocesan ministries and programs – especially by participating in ongoing faith formation initiatives – and by returning the gift of financial resources through the weekly offertory, special collections, and random acts of generosity. Intentional Stewards plan their giving in advance according to what they have earned through the grace of God. Simply put, Christian Stewards give as an expression of their gratitude to God for the gifts He entrusted to them.
You know you have become a sacrificial giver when the offering that you place before the altar fully expresses your gratitude. It isn’t about giving until it hurts, but rather giving until it feels good. Perhaps your long-term desire is to return 10% back to God through the parish offertory. If you find yourself at 2% now, a sudden increase to 10% may not be practical. Consider taking a step to become a 5% steward: for households earning $34,000 annually, your weekly offering would be $34. With annual income of $57,000, your weekly offering would be $57. And, for those with annual earnings of $72,000, your weekly offering would be $72. Trust God, and take that step. (Each of the above examples is technically 5.2%, but neither God nor your parish will mind.)
But the fruits of our stewardship need not end when eternal life begins. A permanent endowment, designated to fund one or more of your treasured Catholic ministries will exist in perpetuity (forever) so your assets yield a significant return over time while continuing to build God’s Kingdom.
The Independent Catholic Foundation specializes in creating and administering permanent endowments that support Catholic parishes, schools, ministries and causes. At your convenience, we would welcome a confidential conversation to discuss options of how your intentional stewardship can live on for generations to come.