A rhythm to living as Christian steward

By Mary Ann Otto | For The Compass | August 14, 2013

Have you ever imagined what it might be like to stand before our loving Creator one day and respond to the question: My dear child, what is it that you have done with the many blessings I put in your care? In my younger days and using my own religious imagination, I believed that the moment would be very intimidating and overwhelming. I always pictured myself carrying a large basket that contained what I would be returning to God, in essence, the fruit of my life. What would my offering say about my life and my relationship with God? In addition, I secretly hoped the person in line before or after me would not be someone like Mother Teresa or Katharine Drexel.

As I have matured in my understanding of stewardship, the process of abundantly returning the blessings that God has allowed to flow through my life seems somewhat less complicated. I have come to recognize that there is a rhythm to living the life of a Christian steward. This pattern, according to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, is receiving God’s gifts gratefully, nurturing them responsibly, sharing them generously and returning them to God in abundance.

One often used great illustration of this pattern of input and output of blessings can be found in two very closely related but very diverse bodies of water. Let’s travel for a moment to Israel and consider both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. We are probably most familiar with the first.

The Sea of Galilee, which plays an important role in Scripture, is located in the northern part of Israel. Jesus spent a great deal of time there in the city of Capernaum. We know this beautiful body of water is an epicenter for life in the way of fish, foliage and human beings as well. If you were to Google the Sea of Galilee, you would find from the many references there that the Jordan River, streams from the hills of Galilee and underground springs provide the main source of water for the survival of the sea. The result of this continual nourishment is a generative landscape.

The Dead Sea, like the Sea of Galilee, receives water from the Jordan River, which travels a substantial distance from the Sea of Galilee. Located in the southern part of Israel, it is the lowest dry point on earth and is completely landlocked. The Dead Sea gives life to nothing. The great amount of water, which is estimated at 7 million tons daily, flows into it and simply evaporates because it has no outlet. Subsequently, it takes but does not return.

When reflecting on my journey as a Christian steward today, I like to imagine that God’s blessings are consistent and continual in my life. Like the ongoing flow of water to a sea, I can acknowledge the great gifts placed in my care and use them to make the work a more fertile and beautiful place. As an imperfect person, this is not always an easy task. Sometimes I need to remind myself that I am not supposed to stockpile the gifts.

There are days when I look at my calendar and wonder if my time has served my relationship with God well. Did the gift of the day flow through me with no outlet for prayer or worship? How about my talents? Did I use any of the hours I was given today to serve anyone other than myself? Is the landscape of my parish, community, neighborhood more beautiful because I shared something I do well with others? Is my parish community stronger and life giving because of the constant flow of blessings through me?

This is the beauty and the challenge of our call to Christian stewardship. I like to think of the journey as the loving response to the giver of the blessings. When the Master returns one day, I personally want to stand humbly yet joyfully knowing that I did my best to return abundantly what was given to me. Though I doubt that I will ever measure up to Mother Teresa or Katharine Drexel, I do not want the many blessings placed in my care to evaporate so I will continue to strive to be a better steward of prayer, service and sharing. Thank you beautiful Sea of Galilee for being a lovely model!

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

Related Posts

Scroll to Top