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Thursday, August 23, 2012

I can scarcely call these things my own

"I can scarcely call these things my own" is the motto of one of some of my ancestors.  To me, that simple motto strikes at the heart of what it means to be a steward of something.  To be a steward is to realize that your decisions affect much more than yourself, or even your things.  Every decision we make affects the world, as a butterflies wings could eventually cause a hurricane, the decisions that we make in our own lives can cause huge changes. 
We are told to be good stewards of our money, of our time, and of many different aspects of our life.  But usually this is a misnomer. What people often mean when they say we should be good stewards is that we should investigate and look into things so that we do not foolishly squander what we have.  There is more to being a steward than that.  Being a steward means realizing that your possessions are not tottally yours, nor are your accomplishments.  Being a steward means working for others, and realizing that the choices that you make have real consequences for other people. 
I am a poor steward.  I can tell you that right now, often I find myself misusing the things that I have because I do not care enough about them.  I do not want my life to be ruled by possessions, and so I tend to treat my possession as if they are worthless.  This is not good stewardship.  As a steward, I should be treating my possessions with pride, because they are not totally mine.  I have been entrusted with them, but they do not truly belong to me.  We inherit the earth from our ancestors, and borrow it from our children.  The choices that we make have lasting effects for generations, and we need to be conscious of the fact that what we do will play out in history.
 There has been alot of controversy over the phrase "you didn't build that".  Well, when we truly look at ourselves, we didn't get anywhere by ourselves.  We had help from parents, from family, from teachers, from friends, from our own workers.  Being a steward means recognizing the contributions that helped us get where we are.  It also means recognizing that your decisions affect all of these people who helped put you into a position to make decisions.  The head of a company is not the only one who contributes to that company.  The leadership of a place is not the only important part.
We must realize that we are a part of a larger whole. I think that is the most important thing about being a steward, is to realize that your decisions affect your small part, but they affect every other part too.  We need to use what we have wisely, not becuase then we might get more of it, but because our use affects those around us, and affects the people and the things that we love.  We need to look at our possessions as barely ours, and belonging mostly to those who we want to serve, the people that we love, and the people who surround us. 
Surrounding us everywhere we turn is the motto of Milton's Satan, "I will not serve".  We are trained nearly from birth to think of ourselves as individuals, as the architects of our own fate, as islands, reliant on no one but ourselves.  We are told to think of service as the domain of the weak, as a place that is to be detested.  Yet the steward is by definition, a servant.  We must serve others, or else we will destroy ourselves.

Live a hands on life

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