I had lunch with a good friend of mine today who recommended a book entitled An Invisible Thread, written by Laura Schroff.
It tells the story of a chance encounter between an upwardly mobile sales executive and a 11 year-old African-American panhandler. As the sales executive walked by him, the boy asked her for some change. She, ignoring him, walked right past. As she was crossing the street, however, she stopped mid-stride and paused. This was it. It was the moment that would define the meaning of life. It was the moment that stewardship broke into a young woman’s life.
Stewardship? This was not the word you were expecting. You were expecting a word like conscience, deliverance, charity, kindness, or something of that nature. Isn’t stewardship what we go through every Fall to gather pledges to get the money to pay the bills? No — stewardship is the term I meant to use. Allow me to finish the story.
So the young sales executive stops in the middle of the street (and is almost hit by a car). She turns right around and walks up to the young boy. She says, “I can’t give you money, but I will take you to McDonald’s and get you something to eat.” It was Monday.
For the next 150 Mondays, they met together. The woman invested in him financially and relationally with all of her expertise and with her considerable network.
Some time later, they were at an event together. He, by this time, was educated and employed. He had a wife and children. He raised his glass to his friend and said something along the lines of “I can never repay you for all you have done for me.” She responded by raising her glass to her friend and saying, “I promise that anything I did for you, you returned to me tenfold.”
I began by writing that the meaning of life is found in the moment of stewardship. Here is what I mean: Understanding stewardship correctly is understanding that everything that we have belongs to God. Becoming a steward rather than an owner is to become more human. A true human being is one who depends entirely upon God. Those things that God gives us to steward are used for the furtherance of His Kingdom, be it in the proclamation of the Gospel, the raising of children in the Faith, caring for the needy and destitute, comforting the suffering, or doing any other work for Christ and His Kingdom that we might imagine.
Stewardship is one of the four emphases of our clergy and vestry: the health, mission, and vitality of St. Thomas’ depends on dependence: dependence on God, that is, and the generous outpouring of time, talent, and treasure that issues forth from the grace of God in Christ. It’s not just finances; it’s not just time and talent. God wants it all — He wants it all — blessing upon blessing. Anything that is given is returned tenfold — tenfold in becoming truly human — freely giving what God has freely given to us for the glory of His Kingdom.