Nurturing God’s gifts responsibly

By Mary Ann Otto | Special to The Compass | March 6, 2013

To be nurturing in the realm of stewardship, means that all of God’s gifts need to be “cared for and cultivated.” In “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response,” written by the U.S. Catholic bishops, following the act of receiving God’s gifts gratefully, a Christian steward is asked to nurture God’s gifts responsibly. Knowing that God’s gifts to us are innumerable, how does one begin to evaluate where we might be on our path to fully living in imitation of Jesus as a Christian steward?

Because the grandeur of God can be seen in each of us, I thought it might be interesting this Lenten season to “try” and list the ways that my life is “charged” with God’s many gifts. Once I completed a reasonable list, I would assess how I am cultivating what God has placed in my care. After all, we are called to honor God with these blessings. For me, the process of self-reflection and assessment, though never easy, is one way that I can look to steer my life; not in comparison to others, but with the guidance of the Creator.

The list of God’s blessings that I would use to assess my current ability to nurture responsibly on a personal level included first and foremost, my relationship with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Am I prayerful? Do I seek God’s will and am I faithful to the Eucharist? Do look for ways to grow in my faith?

An interesting component to consider, especially in our culture, is our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. How am I doing with staying healthy through exercise, diet, rest, check-ups, etc.? Am I selective with what I subject my mind, heart and spirit, to? Is the entertainment that I engage in life-giving?

My relationships with my husband, children, grandchildren, mom, friends, etc. were also on my checklist. Am I truly present to these awesome blessings in my life? Am I a good role model?

Next on my inventory I placed my unique gifts and talents? Do I own them because once I do, I am called to nurture and feed them and eventually use them for the glory of God. And of course, another cultural challenge is the nurturing of our financial and material resources. Exactly where does my money go? Do I need a consumerism-materialism intervention? Ah, seems like so many questions and so little time.

Now came the interesting part. On a scale of 1-5, how would I rate myself as a nurturer of what God has put in my care? I found that I was not a 5 (excellent) or a 1 (poor) in any of the areas. What the process did tell me was that I was on a journey and that I should not become stagnant in my efforts.

I think for most us, we would like our lives to shine with the “grandeur of God” and be as delightful and pleasing as the earth “laughing in flowers.” We have been incredibly blessed and empowered by God to continue his work on earth but our ability to continue the work in a healthy and generous manner will be contingent on how we cared for and nurtured what was given us. Perhaps I will keep my assessment close to me for periodic checkups.

Otto is Stewardship and Special Projects director for the diocesan Stewardship and Pastoral Services Department.

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