"Stewardship transforms faith from words to actions. It challenges us to see all that we have and all that we are in light of God’s abundance. Stewardship has transformed my life, “ writes Grace Duddy in this wonderful article of how stewardship transforms lives.
Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship & Financial Development
Mass. Conference, UCC
Stewardship Transforms Lives
by Grace Duddy
Reprinted with permission from the author, the Center for Stewardship Leaders and Luther Seminary
One of the biggest things that I have learned during my time at the Center for Stewardship Leaders is that stewardship has the power to transform lives and communities. When I was growing up, my congregation did not talk much about stewardship. I only heard the word a handful of times before I entered Luther Seminary in the fall of 2010.
During my first few weeks of seminary, I was looking for a part-time job. A friend connected me with Jerry Hoffman, then the director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders. My first meeting with Jerry was one that I will never forget. Over the course of a few minutes, he explained to me that stewardship was our response to the abundance that God had entrusted to our care. Stewardship was about abundance, not scarcity. Stewardship was a way of life, not a program. It was about “living the vision” not “paying the congregation’s bills.” While I rarely heard the word, I soon realized that stewardship was something I had seen all my life without realizing what it was.
Just a few weeks prior, I was working at a Bible camp. Each week I led a poverty simulation and a program during which we packed up food and sent it to hungry children around the world. I watched as many campers learned for the first time the extent of world hunger. I watched as children who were just a few hours before so focused on getting candy from the “canteen” were now even more eager to give their money to feed the hungry. I watched as they realized that it was not enough to just learn about this issue; they had to live differently because of it. They could live their lives transformed, as good stewards of all that God had entrusted to their care. My campers’ lives were transformed by stewardship, and as a result, many families and communities would be transformed as well.
Stewardship has challenged me, like my campers, to realize the abundance that God has entrusted to my care and live my whole life with an attitude of gratitude. It has challenged me to live my faith rather than just believing it. It has transformed the way that I live my life. And, as I have talked to some of you, I have realized that it has transformed your life too. Stewardship to you is not just about committees or pledge cards—it is about living a life of generosity and gratitude. It’s about a life changed by the realization of the abundance that God has entrusted to your care and the ardent desire to share what you have—time, talent, treasure and so much more—with those in need.
As I have heard your stories, I have seen the ways God has used stewardship to transform communities. I have seen this in the small groups at Light of the World Lutheran Church, who learned how not to be afraid of money together through Fearless Feasts. I have seen this in the story of Messiah Lutheran Church, which formed a creation care team. As a result, they have started a community garden and orchard as well as initiated an Earth Fest, a celebration of local traditions and practical resources for sustainable living. I have seen this at Grace Lutheran Church, which lives its vocation as a place where people can learn about and serve the homeless through its community pancake breakfast, pantry of resources (Grace Room) and creative use of the fellowship hall as a respite during hot summer months. I could tell so many more stories like these.
If my 3 ½ years at the Center for Stewardship Leaders have taught me anything, it has taught me that stewardship has the power to transform lives and communities. Stewardship transforms faith from words to actions. It challenges us to see all that we have and all that we are in light of God’s abundance. Stewardship has transformed my life. How has it transformed yours?
Visit the Center for Stewardship Leaders of Luther Seminary website for more great information!
The late Andy Gustasfon served as the Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship and Financial Development from 2004 to 2014.