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What’s a steward? Are you one?
In times past, wealthy people employed household staffs of domestic servants to manage tasks in their manors. Among them were stewards who supervised different operations in those homes. In our day, we hardly know of anyone who is a steward. Or maybe we do.
In reality, a steward is a person who manages another person’s property. We give them different titles, but they are stewards nevertheless. The trustee of a trust is a steward because he or she is entrusted with management and development of another’s property.
The president of a corporation is a steward. The members of corporate boards of directors are stewards. Bishops are stewards of the resources of their dioceses. Likewise, pastors of parishes have the same function and responsibilities of stewardship.
When God blesses you with a child, is that child yours? Do you “own” that child? Does a baby in its mother’s womb “belong” to its mother, or is that child’s life God-given and belongs to God and not to its mother? And what about your own life? Is it yours or is your life “on loan” from God and to be lived in order to accomplish his purposes?
As Christians, we know deep down in our hearts what the answer is. We know that God has given us life not for our own private purposes but for his. In Genesis, verses 26-29 we read:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
The truth is that we are stewards, stewards of the earth and its resources and stewards of our very own lives as well as the lives of those God has given into our care. Can you think of anything you have that you generated solely on your own power? Even artists who we think “created” their works of art in actuality used talents and resources with which they were gifted. We rightfully speak of artists as “gifted” because we recognize the true source of their talents. Whatever we accomplish we do so with talents on loan from God.
All of this ought to cause us to ponder a bit – to ponder our purposes in making our choices to do whatever we do using the God-given talents and abilities we were given.
So the next time you sing these words, reflect on their meaning: “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; praise him, all creatures here below …”