Stewardship is a term that is most often associated with the management of one’s assets or property. In other words, we tend to understand stewardship as a self-serving skill or ability. And yet, from a biblical perspective, stewardship is a skill that is applied in the management of another’s resources with an eye toward the common good. For example, in Genesis humanity is made the stewards of the Garden — they are to care for and manage the garden for the welfare of its inhabitants. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, those chosen by God are blessed not for their sole benefit and advantage but “in order to be a blessing.” In the Gospels Jesus is constantly offering teaching concerning one’s relationship toward the blessings of life — do we perceive the blessings of life as that to which we are entitled or as a gift from God that we are to nurture? Thus, stewardship has far broader objectives than simply serving one’s own aspirations.
Our relationship to our wealth, property and assets (which includes our talents, abilities, education, profession and vocation) is a spiritual matter. As we begin to perceive our selves as stewards of God’s creation and gifts, our world opens up and we become capable once again of experiencing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, and faithfulness. In other words, we regain the capacity for gratitude within our lives which frees us to look beyond our self-serving desires and objectives. Stewardship is more than the management of assets. To be a steward is to actively participate in the Kingdom of God.
Bob Dannals serves as the rector of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas. He became the seventh rector of the parish in 2007, which with more than 7,000 members is one of the largest Episcopal Churches in the United States. Dannals is a graduate of Florida State University and Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1982 and subsequently earned two doctorates: one from Drew University and the second from the Graduate Theological Foundation. He and his wife, Valerie, live in Dallas and have three grown daughters: Danielle, Kaleigh and Mary Blair.