What motivates people to be the best stewards they can be? Certainly a sense of obligation or duty can be a factor for many. What about gratitude? I have witnessed the power of gratitude in inspiring a more generous, and most importantly, sustainable commitment to the Christian call to stewardship.
I have been training church stewardship team leaders for sixteen years, and I have always encouraged leaders to see themselves as agents of change. Job one for any stewardship leader is to create the conditions for people to change the way they think about who they are, and all they are able to accomplish or accumulate in their life. Stewardship leaders do this by regularly reminding people that…
“All temporal and spiritual goods are created by and come from God. That is true of everything human beings have: spiritual gifts like faith, hope, and love; talents of body and brain; cherished relationships with family and friends; material goods; the achievements of human genius and skill; the world itself.”
Once the above reality is accepted, a person no longer sees their accomplishments, and the fruit of their accomplishments as being of their own doing. This new view of life will naturally lead them to experience an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God for all that is good about their life. Seeing all of life through the lens of gratitude will open their eyes to the abundance around them, and liberate them from any feelings of envy, want, or dissatisfaction. Most critically, from a Christian stewardship perspective, it is this heightened sense of ‘vertical gratitude’ that will inspire in them the desire and the confidence to make stewardship a way of life.
I have a vision for cultivating a more joyful, generous, and sustainable response to Christian Stewardship. It is founded in gratitude, and then formed in nine accompanying virtues. Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others”. There are many virtues that are inextricably linked to discipleship and stewardship, and they are all born out of a gratitude. Virtues like, generosity, humility, simplicity, trust, patience, perseverance, discipline, mercy, and prayer have become my primary focus in stewardship. Cultivating these virtues will change the way people see stewardship and thus change the way they live, and even change the world.
In 2010, while serving as the Director of Stewardship at the Archdiocese of Winnipeg I faced a challenge. The challenge was to get more parishes involved in the stewardship movement. I believed some creative thinking would lead to better results. It was then that I developed this renewed vision for stewardship education and formation. Led by the Holy Spirit, I was convinced that these ten virtues could be the game changer that would transform the way people see stewardship; and, after just one year of promoting this new path to stewardship eleven new parish stewardship teams were established that had not existed in the previous ten years under the time, talent, & treasure model. Creative thinking did indeed change the order of things.
I would be very interested to hear about what sort of creative thinking you have applied to inspire a greater commitment to stewardship among those whom you are leading. In addition, I’m curious to learn about any experience you have had in the relationship between these ten virtues and forming better stewards, and more intentional disciples? I look forward to the dialogue in the coming weeks.
 United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s – 1992 Pastoral Letter, Stewardship – A Disciple’s Response