As September approaches, it is a month that always turns our attention to the beginning of school starting for our kids. It is also a reminder that learning about life and our Faith is not just for “the kids,” but for all of us. There really isn’t any specific level of learning that one graduates from when talking about matters of Faith and learning the stewardship way of life. We constantly need to grow and become informed about our Faith. At my parish, St. John the Apostle in Minot, ND, we have a “Stewardship Day” each year in September, during which we invite parishioners to come and listen to presentations on how to more effectively live the stewardship way of life. And so, whether it is completely new to you, or just a refresher course, learning about stewardship is a life-long process.
One expression we have used at my parish, “All that we have, all that we offer,” gives the basics in understanding the essentials for stewardship. It is “stewardship 101,” so to speak. Thanking God for “all that we have” is primary. As little kids, when we are given something, we are often told by parents, “What do you say?” And the response is “thank you.” Soon, that becomes a reflex response. We don’t need someone to get us to respond. As good stewards, it is our constant response to say thanks for “all that we have.” This is an important first step and lesson of stewardship.
The second step follows in much the same way with the same foundation: that is, gratitude. Out of the gratitude we have for “all that we have,” it should become a natural response to “offer” back to God something of ourselves. This is also a learned but natural response to the desire to be good stewards. This is the second lesson of stewardship we learn when we follow our call to be disciples of Christ. Learning about discipleship is a life-long process. Practicing stewardship allows us to learn how to be the best disciples we can be, given our circumstances and our use of time, talent, and treasure.
So, as September ushers in a new school year, this month also ushers in our ongoing need to learn more about being a good steward. No matter how many “Septembers” you and I have had in our lives, a new one gives us another chance to think of it as the beginning of our own personal school year in Stewardship 101. It allows us to learn about how to live our lives as productive, faithful, and authentic stewards of God’s gifts. And that class is always in session, for each and every one of us.