Stewardship of the mundane
Why do people spend so much time thinking about things that matter so little?
By Amy Butler
Stewardship season is around the corner, and it isn’t a favorite of mine. Perhaps the pastor shouldn’t say those words aloud, but it’s true.
From where I sit, it annoys me that we even have a “season” of stewardship. I could preach any number of sermons about stewardship as a way of life or how everybody shouldn’t have to be reminded every single year to examine their basic priorities.
Lamenting the advent of stewardship season this week, I took a moment to think about the items that crowd my brain and sap my mental energy most of my own waking hours. Frankly, I was appalled. Some were matters of marginal import, such as ideas for the sermon on Sunday or a decision I am considering. Most, however, were wholly insignificant, if not downright inane.
What items in the house can I collect and bring in for the yard sale? How am I going to juggle my schedule tomorrow so I can make it to a meeting on time? What did I have planned for Thursday night that I can’t remember right now? Why does the refrigerator keep freezing the milk? Is whatever’s wrong with the dog’s back paw bad enough to go to the vet? What is that noise the car makes right when you get up to 40 miles per hour?
Truth be told, these are the thoughts on which my days hinge. Topics like these steal my attention and suck up my energy every single day.
While I was right in the middle of realizing how enamored I seem to be with matters of little import, some friends came over to visit and share with me some of their stories from a recent trip to Africa.
They talked animatedly about the people they met in remote villages and showed pictures of water stations, maternity hospitals, orphanages and feeding programs. They told me the names of children they met and stories of parents who walk miles each day for clean water and struggle to feed their families just enough to get by.
None of these stories surprised me, as I am no stranger to late-night televised pleas on behalf of hungry children. What did surprise me was the jarring distance between the concerns that plague my daily life and the things that really matter. For all my disdain for stewardship season, I found that I am in need of a season of stewardship myself.
My daily life is marked by a distinct inability or unwillingness to venture out into the margins of my dis-ease -- to live day in and day out with an awareness that’s attuned to places in human life where the world’s deep need cries out for people of God to sit up and take notice.
I wonder how my life would be different if what I think about all the time changed -- not necessarily eschewing the carpool schedule altogether, but spending real time and energy thinking about how God’s kingdom is coming to be all around me and how my life plays into that unfolding.
Would the focus of my entire life change? Would gratitude, grace, generosity and forgiveness flow automatically from a new and open life into a world so deeply in need?
So I guess I have to admit that, starting with me, we do need a season of stewardship, an intentional time to call us back to the core of who we are and who we might become in the light of God’s grace. There are, after all, things that matter and things that don’t matter so much, and a life marked by tragic engagement with the mundane cannot usher in the kingdom of God.
This year I hope to stop thinking so much about all of the things I think about all the time and spend more energy and intention thinking about what God might think about. Who knows? With a change like that -- a life fully engaged in the work of God in this world -- I might finally get my wish and stewardship season would become obsolete after all.
OPINION: Views expressed in ABPnews columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.