A holistic approach to stewardship

By Tammy Devine  

I wonder: Might Christ be turning the money tables upside down?

I wonder: Is Christ inviting us to steward a deeper relationship with God one where we are listening and attentive to caring and nurturing all that we have been given?

Grace Holistic Stewardship colorsThrough the waters of baptism we are called to live as whole and holy people of God. We are gifted, named and claimed to steward all that God has given us—ourselves, creation, our time and our talents. What does it look like to live well as whole people of God?

Living well means knowing who you are and remembering whose you are. It is God’s desire that we honor, celebrate and share with delight and wonder the unique creation we each are for the sake of ministry in the world. Wholeness (as illustrated by the Wholeness Wheel) reminds us that we are multi-dimensional people – physical, emotional, social/interpersonal, intellectual, vocational and financial and in, around, and throughout each of these dimensions is our spiritual well-being.

As whole people, the choices we make in one dimension shapes another and yet another area of our lives. Similarly, how we choose to steward our health, environment, time and talents impacts the rest of us. We are a community—the body of Christ. Each member of the body is vital to the health and well-being of the whole.

But, as a society we live fragmented and individualistic lives. Consider the way we seek care for our bodies. System by system, gifted specialists focus on a portion of our body—neurologists, urologists, gastroenterologists, orthopedists … We further divide our lives through a lens of work life, home life, or church life. We tend to fend for ourselves with “it’s all about me” attitude.

Slowly, we are recognizing the interconnectivity of our actions, thoughts, and habits. We now know the impact inadequate sleep has on memory and weight loss, not to mention, mood, and creativity; and the impact unmanaged stress has on our health, healing, and productivity. We are seeing the effect nutrient poor soil has on the nutritional value in our food supply.

Our choices as individuals affect one another now and into the future. How we steward our resources will impact the next generation. Leaving our children and grandchildren to wrestle with climate change, changing food supply, costly health care …

I wonder: When the church will reclaim its call to steward all of creation. Stewardship leaders are quick to name we are to steward “all of creation” but quickly focus the conversation on finances.

I wonder: What has caused us as Christ’s church to adapt this narrow definition of stewardship?

I wonder: Are we afraid that the church doesn’t have “enough” money? I wonder: How much is enough, and enough money for what?

I wonder: Might Christ be asking us to consider a holistic approach to stewardship? One that considers how we care for our whole selves, connect with our neighbor, care for creation near and far, steward the resources of the whole church not just our congregation. Steward resources of our whole city not just our community. Steward our whole world not just our country?

I wonder: Might stewarding begin with our relationship with God and God’s invitation to live centered lives? When we are in right relationship with God we are much more able to live well, attentive to God’s desire for us, our congregations, communities, and world. We are attuned and responsive to sharing our gifts of time, talent, or financial resources. I believe, stewardship begins with our spiritual well-being and moves throughout the various areas of our lives where God is inviting, even nudging us to be healthier for the sake of sharing our gifts with others. One small step at a time we grow in stewarding what God has given us—so that we can be Christ’s hands and feet in the world.

About the Author

Tammy Devine is the Wellness Manager for the ELCA and a diaconal minister, serving through Portico Benefit Services. Devine is a strategic and systemic whole-person promoter of well-being through education and inspiration throughout the ELCA. She collaborates with thought leaders to facilitate and motivate whole-person lifestyle choices and serves as an external wellness consultant and coach to integrate well-being throughout the ELCA. Devine is a registered nurse.

Originally published by Center of Stewardship Leaders, Luther Seminary, St Paul, MN, http://www.luthersem.edu/stewardship/





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