I had a delightful conversation with a senior student from one of our Uniting Church schools. He is considering spending a gap year to support a community in a developing country. He thinks he would like the challenge of a cross-cultural experience. Together we chatted about options for volunteering with an Indigenous community, UnitingWorld or another community organisation.
He explained that for him this is an ideal stage of life to spend a year in this way because he has no money but also no responsibilities.
A year is a generous gift of time.
My hunch is that even when he is earning an income and has some professional qualifications Harry will still be generous.
Generosity is a life habit.
I remember a cartoon used in a stewardship campaign that said simply, “There is never a convenient time to give.” The pictures showed a young couple with small children and a large mortgage, a person in middle years paying for children at university and an elderly person trying to make their life savings last.
In our western culture the attitude of many people can be summed up as, “I worked hard for this, I earned it, I deserve it”.
In another era when people had fewer possessions people sometimes talked about providence. It is the notion that God provides what we need to live. We are not owners but rather stewards or caretakers of all resources.
That notion of providence shifts our way of thinking about what we have—our time, talents and money. Instead of thinking about stewardship as giving a tenth of what we have to the work of God and then doing what we like with the nine tenths that we keep for our own use, we start to consider how we spend each minute, each skill and each dollar.
Stewardship is a way of life, rather than a tax to be paid to the church.
Sometimes the generosity of God’s people surprises me. I was at a Presbytery meeting and the treasurer was nearly in tears as he reported that someone had gifted $50 000 for the work of God. Last week I met a lady who had been assisting with the day camp in Bundaberg for decades. Some folk take time every week to visit the residents at the local Blue Care centre.
This month have a conversation about how you exercise stewardship of the resources at your disposal.
Stewardship is caretaking the household of God.
Rev Kaye Ronalds
Queensland Synod Moderator