Our church calls it stewardship, but the word is becoming overused and misunderstood. People are starting to forget what it means or how we are supposed to live it. It has been linked to tithing to church and nothing else, when that is exactly what stewardship is not. I've been thinking on it a lot the last few days, about what I see it to be, and how I am supposed to live my life the way God wants me to.
Everything we have has been given to us by God to use and share the best way we can. Nothing we have is actually ours to keep. If it were, we wouldn't leave this earthly world the same way we came in. We would get to take our wealth, our health, our talents, and our loved ones with us. We don't. I can only conclude that He wants me to use and take care of all that I have to glorify Him and be Him for others.
I see people being generous all of the time. When someone suddenly becomes ill, people line up to help. When tragedy strikes, people freely donate money to those in need. A woman has a baby, women organize meals for her family. It is a wonderful way to use God's gifts, but I don't see that as stewardship. God challenges us to use that same desire to help others every day of our lives. We need to listen, observe, and act in many more creative ways.
Today I was at the grocery store. Halfway through my trip, a woman pushing two carts came from the other direction. A baby was in his car seat in one cart, and her toddler and preschooler were following behind her. The two little girls were whining, and it was obvious that the woman was not having the best day. She was being patient with the girls, but she was worn out. How many times have I been in those shoes?
I didn't see her again until check-out. I finished paying and headed her direction. I saw her pulling wadded up cash out of her pockets to pay. Here was an opportunity to do what God wants. I walked over to her (actually, I accidentally startled her) and handed her a gift card to help pay for the groceries. (Our school has a fundraiser where we buy gift cards and the school keeps a percentage. I always have some for this particular store.) She looked at the card, then looked at me and said, "Are you serious?" I nodded and walked away. She was in a bit of shock, and all I heard her say was, "I'm going to cry." I almost did, too.
A mother at my children's school was having a rough few weeks. She has four children, she had gone back to working half time, was working on getting her masters, and her husband had been traveling quite a bit for work. She didn't complain, she wasn't cranky, but she was seriously tired. My kids were bugging me to make their favorite meal of stuffed shells for a while, so I chose a day to make them. (Have you ever made them? Not hard, but time consuming) I made an extra large batch, called this mother, and told her that I had dinner for her that night. When I dropped them off to her that afternoon, she asked me, "How did you know that today was a day that I really needed this?" I didn't, but God did.
I was driving a couple of my kids to soccer practice, when I saw a sign saying that a dog was lost. It happens quite frequently around here, so I didn't pay much attention to it. Two hours later, I was headed back to pick those soccer kids up when I saw a black lab run by. I had never seen this dog in this area before, so drove the little distance to the sign I had glanced at earlier. Lo and behold, it was a black lab that was lost. I called the number and let the man know. He was new to the area, and didn't know the streets very well. I pulled over, stayed on the phone with him to direct him to our location, all while keeping and eye on where the dog was walking. When the man got to the point where he could see the dog, we hung up. I continued on my way, and was only a little bit late to pick-up. The man called me back, crying, thanking me for helping with the dog. He had only been in town a few months, but in that time he lost his job and his girlfriend died in a terrible car accident. He had been searching for hours and hours for that dog, and just wanted me to know that he was grateful.
I don't always look for the ways that I can help. I don't always help when I know that I can. But every morning I pray for God to help me see the ways that I can use what I've been given to be a blessing to others. And then I pray for the desire and courage to follow through with it.
I am not the only one who does this. What do you do with the gifts you have been given?
Have a lovely, blessings-filled day!
Your stories are beautiful--especially the grocery store one. I've been in that place myself and couldn't help tearing up knowing how much you touched that woman's heart.ReplyDelete
I couldn't agree more with your understanding of stewardship. Yet it's so hard to live it. Often I think of a way I could help someone long after the opportunity has come and gone. Thankyou for sharing these reminders of what we need to be doing every day.
I've been in situations where I was behind someone at a grocery store checkout and they didn't have enough money, so I pitched in the difference, or seen a Mom with frazzled nerves juggling her kids and all their stuff at a fast-food joint and picked up their tab and helped her get all their self-serve drinks, etc. to the table. Like Rise Them Up mentioned though, I have often been in the position where something came as an after-thought ... like if someone insults (or someone you know playfully razzes) you and 20 minutes later you think of the perfect come back. There have been plenty of times when I kicked myself later for not thinking to do such and such at the time.ReplyDelete
It's amazing that I don't have a big bruise on my behind from all of the times I've kicked myself. With each of those kicks, though, we're reminded, and next time, or the 15th time, we'll think to do something. As someone who has had strangers help me when I'm juggling kids and their stuff, I have no doubt that the mom you helped was very grateful.Delete
So inspiring. I feel so overwhelmed most of the time I don't even notice others who are struggling as well.ReplyDelete
Visiting from TALU.
I am sure I have missed plenty of opportunities because I was too busy trying to survive the chaos of the children. I have certainly been more aware now that most of the kids are older and aren't attached to me all the live-long day. Plus, sometimes we are the ones that need the help. We need to be able to take it, too.Delete
This was a beautiful post and a way of stewardship that i had never considered. Thank you for the reminder.ReplyDelete
Thank you, and you're welcome.Delete
Wow, this is beautiful. I never really thought about how our church uses the word stewardship primarily for money, but they really do seem to. I like the way you gave examples of living out good stewardship. Makes me consider how I can do more of that in my life. Thanks! TALUReplyDelete
Thank you for being so inspiring.ReplyDelete