A friend of mine, when he was a clergyman in a downtown church, was confronted one day by a street person who was seeking assistance. My friend observed that the man was wearing only one shoe. “I see that you’ve lost a shoe,” said my friend. “No,” the man replied with a cheery, toothless smile, “I found one!”
My friend said he learned a valuable lesson that day from an unexpected teacher. Things are not always as they appear. Sometimes we tend to notice what is not there instead of what is. It’s a matter of perspective. Faithful stewardship requires a perspective that is focused on what is rather than what is not, on abundance rather than scarcity. That is why St. Paul held up the generosity of the poor and persecuted Macedonians as an example to the more affluent Corinthians. He counseled them, “…if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what one has not” (II Cor. 8:12).
God doesn’t expect us to give out of what we don’t have, but from the resources God has provided. God has certainly been generous with us. Shouldn’t we in turn be generous with God? Of course! All we need now is the readiness to follow through on that belief.
Many churches are asking members to make new stewardship commitments at this time of year. At St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Consecration Sunday is October 14. Wherever you may be, I invite you to give prayerful consideration to the stewardship commitment you will make to God for the coming year. Christian stewardship is not about the Church’s need to receive but about each Christian’s need to give. When we are dealing with our need to give to God, we are probing one of the most sensitive areas of our spirituality. Money comes between people and God more often than anything else. That is why prayer has to precede decisions about giving.
As you pray, first ask God to remind you how much you have received. Next, ask God to grant you the readiness to give from that abundance. Then, ask for a clear, honest assessment of your priorities. After you have answers to these requests, you will find it easier to decide how much to give and to make an intentional commitment to approach your giving as a spiritual practice
Several members of our parish have shared their stories about giving and about having their eyes opened to see God’s gracious hand at work. You can find their stories HERE. Perhaps their perspectives can help yours.
None of us ever fulfilled our destiny or achieved anything great by focusing on what we can’t do. Let the extent of our gifts reflect a perspective that sees an abundance of possibilities and resources. When the readiness is there, God can accomplish amazing things through us.
I’ll see you in Church!
The Very Reverend Ronald D. Pogue
St. Andrew’s Cathedral