Q. I’ve been hearing about stewardship lately, and I’ve wondered about ways I can begin being a steward. I’m at a community college and still live with my parents, but I think this is a habit I’d like to start. Is it just about money or are there are other ways I can be a good steward?
A. What a good question to ask! I believe you are already on your way to being a good steward by the interest within your question.
What does being a good steward really mean? I think it first means that we realize that everything we have is a gift from God. First and foremost this refers to our bodies and souls but it also includes all our spiritual gifts, talents and material blessings. So if we begin with this fundamental understanding that all we have and all we are comes from God then we are in the right frame of mind. From here we should be grateful. Grateful to God for everything! From there, with a grateful heart, we look at all we have received from God and we will want to be generous in return. So I believe that being a good steward requires that we start with the desire to return to God and others what we have received. This is the perfect definition of a “cheerful giver!”
Being a good steward of the gifts we have received from God means we look at our natural talents, our supernatural charisms (spiritual gifts given by God to serve others), and all our material possessions. We look at them and offer them to God and pray that He show us how He wants us to use them.
We use our natural gifts in many natural ways. This may include acts of service to others, giving of our time and energy for good works and the like. Our charisms would be gifts God gives us to directly build up His Church. This may include teaching the faith, evangelizing, organizing ministries, etc. There are many spiritual gifts we may receive from God which draws us beyond our natural comfort zone. We should not be afraid to respond to these gifts with generosity. And we are also called to be generous with our money and material blessings. Sometimes this is the most difficult area to be generous with. So let me offer a bit more on that.
As a college student you most likely do not have much money. That’s ok. It’s not about how much you give. Rather, it’s about you seeing your material blessings and money first and foremost as God’s. Traditionally, based on Genesis 28, it has been recommended that we give 10% of our income directly to the service of the mission of Christ. But there are many other Scriptures that speak about giving generously (see: 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Luke 6:38, Acts 20:35). I think the key is to always return to the idea of being as generous with God as He has been with us. With that said, we all need material resources to care for ourselves and our families. But after that is taken care of I can think of nothing better to do than to be generous in supporting the mission of Christ. In the end, this sort of generosity is just as good for you as it is for others. So, as you say, start forming that habit now and you will not regret it in the future.