Dare to Think Differently – Part One

When we change the way we think, we can dramatically transform the condition of our lives.

This ten part series we will inspire you to ‘Dare to Think Differently’ about stewardship. Let’s dare to take stewardship outside of the time, talent & treasure box! We will ponder the joy and wonder of Christian stewardship when it is lived out each and every day through ten life-changing virtues.

The 1st Virtue – Humility

When you make a firm and conscious decision to follow Jesus, you will inevitably run into stewardship. Stewardship makes our discipleship complete and opens the door to the abundant life Jesus promised.

Happiness is the ‘Abundant Life’…Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

  • A life that adds value to others – who we are is God’s gift, who we become is our gift to God…and to others.
  • A life filled with the joy of recognizing and rejoicing in God’s goodness every day!
  • A life that enjoys peace of mind, the kind of peace that only Jesus can give. John 14:27

We live in a culture that encourages self-reliance. “If it’s meant to be it’s up to me” is a familiar mantra. While it is right for us to be confident and trust in our own abilities, we should never lose sight of the truth. Humility means that we acknowledge the truth about ourselves and about God. Let’s start with our opportunities, talents, and abilities for example. These human capacities that we rely upon have only one source…they come from our good and gracious God.  Sadly, many people today tend to forget this and that leaves little room for humility. The consequence is to live under the endless pressure of relying solely on themselves.

With pride out of the way, God is able to go to work in our lives and accomplish things we would have never thought possible!

At the heart of stewardship is letting go of any prideful claim that our opportunities, and abilities, and any income we are able to earn because of these gifts, are of our own doing. Everything we are able to accomplish or accumulate in our life has its source, and purpose and meaning, in God. This way of thinking gets pride out of the way and God is then able to go to work in our lives to accomplish things we would have never thought possible! “His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21)  

Humility does not require that we embrace an overly timid stance in life.

“Humility does not mean that we think less of ourselves…it simply means that we think of ourselves less.” 

Rick Warren

This is healthy humility!  A humble disposition like this puts God first, and it gives us the God-grounded confidence, and courage, to boldly develop, use, and share our gifts for his glory. Healthy humility leads to the fruitful stewardship of all that God gives us.

St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own power. Your self-sufficiency, your selfishness and your intellectual pride will inhibit His coming to live in your heart because God cannot fill what is already full. It is as simple as that”.

Humility

 

Humility is the antidote to the deadly sin of pride. Most importantly, being humble about the source of our gifts fills are hearts with gratitude to God. When we are grateful to God it increases the depth of our hope. That in itself makes for a much more abundant life!

 

 

 

Three good habits to cultivate the virtue of humility in your life are:

  1. Study, reflect, and apply everything the Word of God has to say about the virtue of humility.
  2. Each morning, take a moment to pray that you will recognize when pride rises in you in the day ahead, and call upon the Holy Spirit to take it away!
  3. Practice the habit of intentionally confronting pride in your day-to-day experiences for one month. Keep a journal of the results, recording how it has changed your life. You can use the journal for each of the nine other virtues in the months ahead.

Joseph Daniel Potvin

Joppa Stewardship Leaders, Ottawa

Email: jdanielp@joppastewardship.com

The Joy of Stewardship – Share Your Hope!

Conversion & Knowing & Obeying leads to Proclaiming…your Hope!

This Sunday’s readings provide us with a unique opportunity to explore a most meaningful way to stewardship. Conversion – Knowing – Obeying – Proclaiming. Beginning with Peter’s speech, he invites people to repent and turn to God (Acts 3:19). This is a call to conversion, a call to see life anew. Stewardship likewise begins with a change of heart and mind. Stewardship inspires us to look at all that we are and everything we have through new lenses. It all comes from and belongs to God. Conversion like this leads to a greater desire to know God and his will. We seek what God wants, to know how he wants us to use and share our gifts. The gift of life itself and our faith. What about our relationships and the gift of each day? Our talents and abilities; our individual opportunities; and all the material goods that we have.  How does God want us to steward it all? Seeking God’s will and being obedient to it is the way to stewardship that has impact! Impact in our own lives and those around us.

Seeking God’s will and being obedient to it is the way to stewardship that has impact!

A person can be sure that you know God by the example of your life. To know God is to obey his commandments. Knowing him also means to be in relationship with him that involves intimacy and experience. The deeper our relationship with Jesus the stronger our desire to be obedient – to be the best stewards and disciples we can be! Born out of our love for Jesus, our obedience never feels legalistic or burdensome. The opposite is true, it is freeing and rewarding. Obedience in stewarding God’s gifts as he wants is always joyful!

Finally, in the Gospel Jesus commissions us to “proclaim in his name to all nations” (Luke 25:47). Conversion – knowing – obeying – these all instill in us a compelling desire to proclaim. The Church encourages us in our call as lay faithful to proclaim. “The laity likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and have their own share in the mission” (Vatican II Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity).

We are stewards of the gift of faith that we have received.

In what ways are you joyfully proclaiming the hope that you have in the resurrection to the people you meet every day?

Radical Stuff

This Sunday’s reading from The Acts of the Apostle is Radical Stuff!

– “Everyone who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles” (Acts 4:34).

What was it that inspired the first Christian community to embrace such radical stewardship? None of the early Church members claimed that their possessions were their own. They understood the truth about stewardship – we don’t really own anything, it all comes from and belongs to God. One of the joys of stewardship comes from the confidence in knowing that God always provides for our material and spiritual needs (Matt 6:33). This belief frees us from uselessly worrying about of having enough!

“The kingdom is where God provides for all that we need. It is the realm of sufficiency where we are no longer pulled here and there by anxiety about having enough” (Henri J.M. Nouwen).

Armed with a God-grounded confidence, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, the first Christians embraced radical stewardship and shared everything they had!

Believing that everything we possess is a gift from God stirs up the virtue of gratitude in our hearts. Gratitude to God then inspires us to make a conscious and confident decision to share our gifts.  Stewardship is sharing in gratitude not out of obligation or duty. When grateful hearts inspire giving, joy always accompanies the gift. Imagine how grateful the first Christians were? They had just received the incredible gift of a new life in Christ. The first followers were “all in” and their stewardship was rewarded both personally, “God greatly blessed his followers, and no one went in need of anything” (Acts 4:34) and as a community of believers, “each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

The example of stewardship we see in the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that stewardship is not new. Stewardship is God’s idea. It’s radical stuff, God likes it.

The first followers were “all in” and their stewardship was rewarded!

The first Christians were responding to God’s goodness. A great way for us to respond to God’ s goodness is to consider tithing. God’s word on tithing remains valid today and we can trust in his word.  For someone new to tithing they may well see it as monumental leap in their giving. I recall the first time Lynn and I considered making the move to tithing. We thought how can we ever do this! However, we were encouraged to simply start…start small and work our way to 10%. It took a few years but we got there, and we have never looked back. Moreover, we have never been better off! We are better off not just because of the ten percent we give, but because of how we steward the 90% we keep. Stewardship is about how we care for 100% of our gifts. God wants it all stewarded well. The day to day choices that stewardship inspires us to make are what have contributed to us being “better off”. Still, there are those out-of-nowhere rewards that we can only explain as God-incidences. Seems he will simply not be outdone in giving.

What has been your experience with tithing? How or why did you start? If you haven’t tried it, give it go! It’s radical stuff, and God does indeed honor it, we have his word on that!   “I am the Lord All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing” (Malachi 3:10).

 

“Do we have to go to Church dad?”

I will never forget the Sunday many years ago when our children first objected to attending Mass. They were teenagers at the time. I thought to pull the ‘obligation’ card, however, the spirituality of stewardship had taught me better. I reminded them of the many blessings they enjoy every week. For example: a warm bed; mom’s excellent cooking; their friends at school; and sports. Asking if they were grateful for it all, they responded, “Of course we are!” Then, I reminded them that it was all God’s gift and going to Mass was the best way to thank Him for it all. They never complained about going to Mass again. They still attend, with joy, today. Gratitude moves people much more than obligation; and they move with joy.

I thought to pull the ‘obligation’ card, however, the spirituality of stewardship had taught me better!

Secularism is removing the Ten Commandments from public places and policy. Secularists are ignoring that “God spoke all these words”. (Exodus 20:1) I like to look at the Ten Commandments through the lens of stewardship. For example, the Fourth Commandment – Keep the Sabbath Holy. Every day is a gift from God and something that we can always be grateful for. Gratitude inspires us to be good stewards of each day.

Gratitude moves people much more than obligation; and they move with joy!

In total, there are 168 hours in a week. Attending Mass every Sunday is a great way for us to give one of those hours back to God, in thanksgiving. And, we can do even better than that! Let’s reclaim the whole Sabbath. There is such joy in dedicating the entire day to God. Spending the day with family or taking some time for yourself is so rewarding – God has set it up that way. Being a good steward of Sunday is like imitating God’s own rest on the seventh day of creation. Moreover, putting God first every day of the week is the way to experience the abundant life (John 10:10) that Jesus came to give us.

“Get out of the way!” 

“Get out of the way!”  – Discovering Healthy Humility

U2’s new album ‘Songs of Experience’ has an awesome song (actually every track is awesome!) entitled ‘Get Out of Your Own Way’. This song has reminded me of an event in my life many years ago that changed everything…

I was not looking for Christian stewardship when it found me in 1992. That is when I was introduced to this beautiful way of life by our parish priest Fr. Darrin Gurr.

Once again I did not see it coming, when God called me to make promoting Christian stewardship my life’s work and ministry in 1999. That calling is a story for another time. My God-given mission in life is to share my belief in the Christian stewardship way of life. It is a calling that I believe I need to live boldly and confidently!

Still, at the same time I feel like I need to be gentle and remain humble. In the early years of my ministry I frequently experienced a tension between my desire to remain humble and the need to show confidence. Everything changed for me when I attended a ‘Face-to-Face’® retreat in 2007. I attended the retreat that weekend in search of finding a balance between humility and confidence. Something happened at the very start of the retreat that caught my attention to say the least. I heard Jesus’ voice and had a vision I will never forget!

We were all gathered for opening prayer and worship to begin the retreat. We were calling on the Holy Spirit to come fill this place! Then I heard it…“Get out of the way!” I could hear His voice, as if He were standing right beside me. It came again, “Get out of the way, my Father is trying to do something through you and you keep getting in the way.” The vision was as clear as the voice – Jesus swooping down out of the clouds, and He seemed to have a certain sense of urgency about Him. He stood behind me, and with almost an air of frustration with me, yelled, “Get out of the way!” I thought, “Am I physically in the way?” Then I had an epiphany; it was my pride that was in the way.

That vision was another God-incidence that became the turning point at which I began to embrace a ‘healthy humility’. At the same time I discovered a new ‘God-grounded confidence’. Following the experience of that retreat, I found a great deal of strength in remaining humble by simply keeping my eye on Jesus.  I realized we can do anything if we stay focused on Jesus.  By staying focused on Jesus, we can be all that God has called us to be, and do what He has called us to do. Peter could only walk on water as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, when he looked away, he started to worry about what was going on around him, and he sank. (Matthew 14:30)   When I worry about what people think, or become concerned about receiving recognition for my work, I am not being very humble. I believe that lack of humility inhibits my ability to receive God’s wisdom and guidance. Since that, “Get out of the way” retreat experience, I spend time in prayer every day – I don’t begin a day without it – no bible, no breakfast! Spending time in God’s word reflecting on the life and teachings of Jesus is AWESOME because He shows us the way to humility.

Humility is one of the virtues we must possess if we are to experience the fullness of life that Jesus came to give us. (John 10:10) Only by placing ourselves completely under Christ’s authority will we be given the wisdom and, any authority to boldly share the Good News with others. Pride is a very serious obstacle to authentic discipleship. My pride manifested itself in worrying too much about what people thought of me. The feeling that I had to prove something or impress someone was rooted in pride.  Today, the most important audience for me is God. I simply keep “getting out of the way” and through the power of the Holy Spirit, God does the rest.  

How do you cultivate the virtue of humility in your life? I’d love to hear from you.

Always grateful and hopeful in our good and gracious God,

J. Daniel

Sunday Stewardship Reflection for December 31st – Holy Family

It was more than thirty years ago that I first laid eyes on our first child, a new born son.

I recall an overwhelming feeling of how amazing God is.

He created this wonderful gift!

Day-to-day family life can be a challenge for many of us at times. It helps to look to the example of the Holy Family; of Joseph and Mary as the best model for living out our vocations as parents. Inspired by their example, and led by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are able steward the gift of our children as God desires. The most important gift any of us can give our children is to nurture them in faith; so that, like Jesus, “they grow and become strong, filled with wisdom” and have the “favor of God” upon them.

Caring for our families is indeed a most vital; and a good example of every day, real life Christian stewardship.