Good stewardship: a state of heart

by Sharon K. Perkins

When our oldest daughter was still in her preteens, she declared the she wanted to be an actuary when she grew up.

Once I figured out what it was that an actuary did, I was not surprised by her admission. She had been a “bean counter” from an early age, even improvising a ledger in a small spiral notebook for tracking credit entries (her weekly allowance) as well as the occasional debit (when her father and I had to borrow a little cash!).

Her aptitude for accounting has since guided her career path as a corporate auditor and is matched
only by her skill in bargain hunting. Her shrewdness in financial matters surpasses even my penny-pinching abilities, serving her well in these chal- lenging economic times.

Today’s Gospel about the “crafty steward” has always intrigued me. Why would Jesus hold up as a model a servant who engaged in probable embezzlement of his master’s property and some rather shady manipulation of his accounts?

From Jesus’ perspective, the point here is not the steward’s immorality but his astuteness. The accountant, recognizing the signs of his impending dismissal, takes quick and prudent ac- tion. By rewriting the debtors’ invoices, he enhances his master’s reputation for generosity, and he makes use of mate- rial goods to build relationships that will benefit him in the long run. God has not only provided for my family’s needs but has blessed me with all sorts of resources, tangible and intangible. The older I get, the more I realize the importance of gratitude, proper perspective and prudent action when it comes to God’s gifts. I am called to be thankful, especially for the gifts that I don’t recognize to be gifts at the time.

The blessings God bestows aren’t simply for my benefit —they’re given to demonstrate God’s generosity to others. Life isn’t about accumulation of “stuff” — it’s about building relationships with people and taking wise but practical action on their behalf.

Ultimately, good stewardship isn’t about the state of the economy: it’s about the state of one’s heart.

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