By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC
It has been said that stewardship in Christianity follows from the belief that human beings are created by the same God who created the entire universe and everything in it. To look after the Earth, and thus God’s dominion, is the responsibility of the Christian steward. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 21:1). The steward is one who acknowledges that his or her personal life, as well as all of creation, is a gift from a loving and gracious God. In response to this gift he or she actively participates in life in such a way that expresses love, gratitude and respect for God, others, self, and for the environment. Understanding and communicating what it means to live a life of authentic stewardship can be elusive. Coming to a full realization involves a lifetime of learning how to love as God loves, and who can better teach us how to love than God?
Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing (John 5:19). Jesus, in imitating his Father, is the revelation of God’s love. We in turn are called to be imitators of Jesus. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, advises, “Be imitators of me, in so far as I in turn am an imitator of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Christian classic “My Imitation of Christ,” written by Thomas à Kempis begins in this way,
He that follows me, walks not in darkness, says our Lord (John 7:12).
These are the words of Christ, by which we are admonished, that we must
imitate his life and manners, if we would be truly enlightened, and
delivered from all blindness of heart.
The spiritual way and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi is grounded upon Francis emulating the simplicity and humble obedience of Jesus, whom he recognized as being the ultimate example of what it means to be a steward of God.
The season of Advent is a wonderful time to think about what it means for us to emulate the life of Christ in our personal life, in our ministry, and in our life together as a Christian community. The words of St. Paul to the Philippians are helpful in this regard, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped at” (Philippians 2: 5-11).
At my home parish, Church of the Holy Angels in Bainbridge, OH, we have adopted a new parish theme, “Stewards Reflecting Christ.” This theme embodies what it is that each of us is called to do and “be” as a follower of Jesus. During this Advent season may we all grow in the awareness of God’s presence in our daily lives as we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ. Let us pray that our thoughts, words and actions might be a reflection of the Holy Spirit of the Living God who dwells within, and that we might truly be a steward reflecting Christ.
Charles Sidoti is coordinator of spiritual care at South Pointe Hospital, Cleveland Clinic Health System, in Cleveland, OH. He is the author of two books, “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,” published in 2011 by Twenty-Third Publications, and “Fortune Cookie Wisdom: a contemplative perspective,” published in 2013 by Tau Publishing.