In Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation: Stewardship, Phyllis M. Bowers has outlined twelve qualities of the Christian steward. Rev. Bowers is the Executive Director of The United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Central Pennsylvania. It is an honor for her work to be published in a denominational guide. Over the next year, we will take a look at each of the twelve qualities she has detailed. The first of these characteristics is compassion. She states:
A Christian steward is compassionate. Christian stewards are caretakers and caregivers. They concern themselves with the distribution of gifts and resources so that all might benefit (Genesis 2.4-9; Matthew 14.13-21; Matthew 25.31-46; 1 Corinthians 12.12-28; James 2.14-17).
While a caretaker is one who has been given the responsibility of caring for something or someone, a caregiver always refers to the care of someone. Stewards recognize that their finances and possessions belong to God and are only entrusted to their care. They are given to the steward to be used in ways faithful to God. The creation passage in Genesis 2 expresses this in telling how God created the earth, placing humankind in the midst of it to care for it (Genesis 2.15).
God calls his stewards to be compassionate, distributing their resources to care for others in their time of need. Jesus did this as he fed the five thousand (Matthew 14). Jesus says when we do this for a stranger, we do this for him.
To be caretaker and caregiver is to recognize that all we have is gift, a gift entrusted to us to use for the glory of God.
We pray, “God, thank you for your good gifts, for your provision. May we be faithful in sharing those gifts to care for one another and to care for the stranger in our midst.”
(This post is taken from my monthly finance letter at West Side UMC.)