By C. Conrad Martin, Director of Finance
In my last article (franconiaconference.org/stewardship-october/) I mentioned four possible motivations for stewardship. The fourth one, Worship, needs a little more processing.
Mark Vincent, in his publication, A Stewardship Manifesto, says that “it is a stewardship rooted in an experience with grace that branches out into a worshipful response.” What has been our experience with grace that would make our life more generous? Has it been a merciful intervention from tragedy or despair, or from experiencing the birth of a child? Has it been by receiving a second chance to do something we should have done the first time we had the opportunity, or from receiving something totally unexpected or even undeserved?
What has been your response to receiving God’s grace? Do you tell others? Vincent says that telling our stories of meeting God’s grace is important. It acts to remind us of our new identity as one who has received God’s grace, but also invites others into an experience of God’s grace. Telling our story is a form of worship. It keeps us aware of God’s continuing activity in our lives and gives us another opportunity to thank God.
The story of the Exodus is often told as an example of God’s grace. Each generation of Hebrew was told this story, passed from parent to child for thousands of years and with each new hearing, there was a calling for the hearer to live a generous life. Every time we hear a story like that, we are invited into the same kind of relationship with God.
What does your experience of grace teach you? Does it spur you on to a different practice, perhaps a new practice of generosity? Vincent says that telling the story again and again, keeps you in touch with God’s grace to you, to the point that opportunities to respond will often jump right out at you, causing you to interact with others in new ways.
Practicing stewardship can take at least two forms, according to Vincent: 1) the practice of giving and distributing through acts of worship and 2) the practice of love through acts of service. The story of the Widow’s Two Mites in Luke 21 is an example of the first: giving as an act of worship. The story of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 is an example of the second: giving as an act of service, even to the point of being so generous with one’s life that the giver doesn’t even know they are doing it. Oh, to practice stewardship like this.
I also appreciate what Leonard Dow, in his publication Upside Down Living: Money, says about our practices: “Before we can act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly in the ways of God, we have to truly know that Jesus is Lord of our time, talents, and our treasures.” Perhaps our practices really do reflect who is Lord of our time, talents and treasures.