“You can’t stop now” was my pastor’s reply to my testimony. I was so excited to tell him about the miracles that were taking place in my life since I decided to change some things. That was 27 years ago and looking back now I could never have imagined how prophetic his words would be. What I think he was getting at was that I would not be able to reverse this radical change in direction my life had taken. My 180 degree course correction came as result of him having given me a new way of viewing life and happiness – the Christian stewardship view.
Very early in my journey stewardship quickly became for me a way to not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind! (Romans 12:2)Tweet
I was introduced to stewardship like most people with the Time Talent and Treasure model, the 3 ‘T’s for short. However, I remember thinking this stewardship is radical stuff. This is a lifestyle that is really about be swimming against the tide of cultural secularism and runaway consumerism and materialism. I was actually attracted by the counter-culture feel of it. My way of life wasn’t working for me so I was ready to risk going against the trend. Very early in my journey in stewardship it quickly became for me a way to not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind! (Romans 12:2)
I was so excited with the way this renewed way of thinking had so instantly and dramatically transformed my life I was convinced that there was more to this than Time Talent and Treasure.
In my 14 years of promoting stewardship at the Archdiocese of Winnipeg I consistantly would tell church stewardship teams…”Our number one job is to inspire people to change the way they think about who they are and all they possess!” The Time, Talent, & Treasure model is tired and quite frankly doesn’t have any lasting impact in people’s lives. The three ‘T’s program is tired because it simply places a demand on people the moment they hear it. They think, “Oh, the church wants me to volunteer and give more!”
It’s time we dare to think differently about how we invite people to a greater commitment to this beautiful spirituality and view of life. Hearts and minds are transformed when we think outside the box of time, talent, and treasure.
There is a better way to stewardship than the annual 3 ‘T’s appeal, a way that is both joyful and sustainable.
There is no doubt that we need to change what people think about stewardship? We can begin by demonstrating that stewardship is joyful when it is formed, not out of obligation or duty, but gratitude. Over the years I have developed a way to stewardship that includes nine virtues – not 3 ‘T’s. My experience has been that these virtues, when cultivated in a person’s life, naturally lead people to greater stewardship. Moreover, they inspire stewardship that is sustainable!
It all begins with the virtue of gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation because, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all the others” (Cicero).
Gratitude, humility, simplicity, discipline, trust and generosity are the hallmark virtues of stewardship. These six virtues when held up by the virtues of perseverance, patience, and prayer build a life of peace, hope and joy. The ways of the world lead to a hopeless end – discipleship and stewardship are the way to endless hope.
This blog exists to inspire and equip leaders in the stewardship movement. I look forward to exploring the impact of these stewardship virtues, and hearing about how you have dared to think differently about stewardship.
Always grateful and hopeful in our good and gracious God,
J. Dan Potvin
Thanks Dan and Lynne, it’s so nice to read your stewardship gems again. May God bless you both in this ministry! God is good!
Hi Darin & Carlene, sure miss seeing you both and chatting around your dinner table! If you ever take a ride on your bike out east you have a place to stay!
Love this. Makes me miss hearing your talks!
Hi Colleen, makes me miss giving the talks, maybe God is re-kindling the fire here! Miss you!
During the pandemic, and especially after the governments instituted restrictions on the size of gatherings, it amazed me how, for so many people, that 1 hour gathering “in the box” on Sundays was so important. Even when, alternatively, that gathering was delivered directly to them through the internet. Something along the way had instilled in them the idea that God, the Creator of the entire universe, the all knowing all powerful God, needed a “special place” to meet with His children. How many times have we heard from the pulpit and even from the last three Popes, that true faith is so much more than Sunday mass, that it is a 24-7 activity and that needs to permeate all that we do.
As with others who have responded, I am immensely grateful for Dan and all that he does to keep the spirit of Stewardship alive. I found Dan’s reference to the 3 T’s very interesting. I remember the very first Stewardship Conference I attended in Toronto, (where I met Dan). At one of the presentations the presenter added a 4th T, “Tradition” and the importance of passing the gift of our faith on.
Then came Fr. Joe Creedon who added on a fifth, “Testimony”. That each of us “needs to be a testimony to our faith because it is our actions that give credibility to our words.”
We also had the 9 and later the 12 garden plots. The 3 Up’s, show-up, shut-up and cough-up, and the nine virtues that Dan talked about. And, if I am not mistaken, there were also some “P’s” and “R’s” thrown into the mix.
All of these are wonderful tools that have enabled us to reach even more people with the message/gift of stewardship. However, to me, the greatest challenge facing the Church is not the teaching of the faith, but in getting the faithful to “Live their Faith”. And that is why I think our Church, and all Christian Churches for that matter, need a stronger focus on ‘stewardship as a way of life and on building community’.
In their letter entitled “Stewardship; A disciple’s response”, the U.S. Bishops referred to Stewardship as “A Way of Life” and based it on 4 basic pillars that are not teaching us what to believe but rather, telling us what to do:
1, Accepting Gods gifts gratefully
2. Caring for and nurturing them respectfully,
3. Sharing them generously and
4. Returning then with interest to God.
They are calls to action.
Community and Stewardship are not separable. A community is group of people that share activities (like those listed above) that are directed at a common purpose. Our purpose is to be Christian, to be like Christ and to cultivate and develop each person’s potential to be more in the image and likeness of Christ. Why? As Jesus put it “So that His joy may be in us and that our joy may be complete.”
And we can do it. If you think about it, Jesus chose a doubter(Thomas), a liar (Peter),a betrayer(Judas) and 9 others who would desert Him to carry His message to the rest of the world. And, I think it is safe to say that they did a pretty great job. Just think what he could do through us if, using those 4 calls to action, we acted as a community. All it takes is to adopted Stewardship as a Way Of Life.
Thanks again Dan. God Bless
It is so great to hear from you my friend, and to read your comments. Good to see you still have the fire Laurent. Very well written! I especially like the way you postioned stewardshio as both a “message & gift” of stewardship. It is a gift to anyone who will have the courage to accept it and embrace it – to dare to think differently. God bless my friend and thanks for sharing your wisdom.