Thursday, June 5, 2014

The "S" Word

Here's what I wrote for my newsletter article in our latest issue:

A New Way to Think About
the “S” Word

I was asked to attend the LCMS Stewardship conference that was recently held in St. Louis. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but since the synod was offering to pay for it, I decided to give it a try and hear what they had to say.

For many people (myself included), stewardship is a topic that we’d really rather not talk about or think about. At least, not very much or in polite company! Too often I have been bashed over the head with the Law by well-intentioned folks trying to talk about stewardship. Too often it has been co-opted as a chance to beg for money. Too often, the same tired old phrases are trotted out and my eyes glaze over and my head goes numb . . .

There was some of that in this conference as well, and my eyes did glaze over and my mind go numb a little! But one presenter also offered a new way to approach thinking about this that was quite refreshing to me. He linked this topic to sanctification and living in your vocations with the terms presence and support. Let me explain:

In our lives, all of us live in what Luther called the “three realms:” the home, the church, and society. And within each of those realms, we have callings, or vocations - places or stations in life where God has put us to do good and receive good from others. So in the home, that would include father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister. In society that would include worker, student, neighbor, friend, citizen, soldier, and many more. And in the church we have the vocation of “Christian” in our local congregation, in our synod, and in the global church. We all have many, many callings, or vocations, in life. So far, so good.

So, he said, in each of those vocations, we have the duty of presence and support. What does that mean? Well, it’s really not very complicated! Presence, of course, means simply to be there. Be there for the people around you who need you. And support means to help them in whatever ways you are able.

Now think about how that would work in your home, in your family. Be there for one another and support one another.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Yet how often is not even this done?What would that mean for your callings in society? How can you be there for others and support them? What would that look like? And then finally for the church - be there and help and support as you are able.

There is nothing complicated about that! And each person can think about what that means for them depending on their age and abilities. And sometimes the two even go together - you help and support just by being there for someone, just by visiting, just by being in church. Just by doing that, you are being God’s blessing to your fellow Christians. 

Presence and support. A new way (for me, at least) to think about the “S” word. To think about what I do and why I do it. To think about how I can live the life God has so graciously given me among the people He has so graciously given me with the gifts He has so graciously given me. 

What about you? How can you be there for someone? How can you support them? And how are they God’s blessing to you in these ways? Presence and support. Seems like a pretty natural - and not forced! - way of life. Yes, even of stewarding the life God has so graciously given you. Think about it.

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