Dare to Think Differently – Part Two

Stuck in rush hour traffic, again! I used to hate it. That was before I developed the habit of intentionally thinking differently about my daily, 2 hours of commuting in bumper to bumper traffic. I used to complain about it until my little prayer warrior, my wife Lynn, reminded me about the power of gratitude. The next time I thought to feel grumpy while stuck in traffic I remembered I was sitting in traffic because I was blessed to be travelling to a job – a job that I love. I thought, how many people struggle every day just to survive and here I am whining about going to work! Wow, I should be ashamed. I instantly felt grateful. That slight adjustment in my thinking has forever changed the way I feel about the daily commute. Time in traffic is now an opportunity to spend some time in what Matthew Kelly calls the “classroom of silence”.  Rush hour traffic is a great time for prayer, and prayer changes things. It is amazing how the condition of our lives can be dramatically transformed, by simply changing the way we think!

 “A grateful heart silences a complaining voice!”[i]

The 2nd Stewardship Virtue – Gratitude

Gratitude to God has the power to unleash in us the kind of peace of mind and joy that nothing else in this world can even come close to providing. This Holy joy inspires a life that is lived well. The fruit of such a life is stewardship that has real impact! The impact is first and foremost felt in our own day-to-day living.

Gratitude

When we develop the daily habit of gratitude our eyes are opened to the abundance of God’s blessings in our lives, and all around us; and, this creates in us the confidence, and the intense desire to take care of it all, and to share a generous portion of it with others. Gratitude to God has changed my vision of the purpose and meaning of life.  In addition, when we cultivate the virtue of gratitude in our lives we are liberated from any feelings of want, envy, or dissatisfaction. This is very freeing and give us peace.

Gratitude to God inspires stewardship that flows freely and joyfully. When we are grateful to God it strengthens our hope because we know that our good and gracious God, the source of all our gifts, always provides for our needs, and even some of our wants. In appreciation for God’s gifts to us, the gifts we share are given without any fear of having enough; shared without conditions or expectations. Gratitude moves us to joyful generosity.

Gratitude to God inspires a transition from ‘giving to a need’ to ‘needing to give’.

Lynn and I began our journey in stewardship in 1992. We were under intense financial pressure at the time because of the loss of our business. Still, we recall that somehow, with God’s grace, we were always able to get by. We were so filled with gratitude to God we just had to give something back! Every Sunday we would write the check for our Church offering and place it in the basket with the thought “Here you are God, thanks for getting us through another week!” That is a sentiment we still hold fast to today. Gratitude to God has inspired us to make the transition from ‘giving to a need’ to ‘needing to give’.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” [ii]

A stewardship virtue that is enhanced by gratitude is simplicity. One of the joys of simplicity is that it gives us the freedom from being caught up in the excessive, and unnecessary, consumer debt that plagues so many people today. Good stewards know it is better to strive for meaning and purpose in life, rather than be caught up in the relentless, and exhausting, pursuit of the things our culture says will make us happy.

The abundant life is not about having what we want…

 It’s about wanting what we have.

Life-changing gratitude comes from recognizing God in everything, all day, and every day. Everyday gratitude to God creates the conditions for us to experience daily moments of awe. This forever changes how we experience and enjoy life!

Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think.

Romans 12:2

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

  1. Place a ‘Gratitude Habit’ white board on your fridge, or start a list on your smart phone, record 3 new things you are grateful for every day.
  2. Every night before you fall asleep reflect back on the day and give thanks to God for his gifts that day.
  3. Be on guard to catch yourself before complaining and look for something to be grateful for…we are all blessed in so many ways it will not be hard to find something to be grateful for.
Joseph Daniel Potvin, Joppa Stewardship Leaders, Ottawa, Email: jdanielp@joppastewardship.com

 


[i] Bishop Eugene John Gerber (1931 – 2018)

[ii] Cicero (106–43bc) Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher

 

 

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).