Don’t let consumerism drown out call to Christian stewardship

| Joe Towalski | June 23, 2011 | 0 Comments

Kids are generous by nature. They want to make a difference in their communities and churches.

Case in point: My 12-year-old son, after seeing a commercial on television about an organization that fixes the cleft palates of children in developing countries where families cannot afford the surgery, decided on his own to raise money for the cause. He baked cookies, sold them to our friends and coworkers, and donated the proceeds to the cause.

Every parent, teacher and pastor can tell similar stories of children who are more than willing to share their time and talent to raise money for a good cause or participate in a service project to help a person in need.

Somewhere along the line, however, this generous impulse often gets short-circuited by a consumer culture fixated on material things and instant gratification. “What do I want?” is the question that too often replaces “What do I need?” and just as important: “What do others need?”

Sharing our values

The consumer pressures don’t go away as children grow into adulthood; they only take a different form. Not everyone succumbs to the pressure, but too many of us do — maybe not all the time, but more often than we would like.

That’s why finance experts like Nathan Dungan (see story, page 5A) stress the importance of having family conversations about healthy money habits. That’s also why, in part, the U.S. bishops issued their document “Stewardship and Young Adults: An Invitation to Help Change the World” back in 2003.

It talks about the “call to listen to the voice of the Spirit speaking of gratitude and responsibility” and Catholic stewardship as a way of life that involves cultivating the gifts God gives us and sharing them with others. Those gifts include material goods, but also our faith, our talents and skills, and our compassion and vision.

Points to ponder

The document concludes with four reflection questions:

» What resources, talents and abilities has God given me? Do I use them in service to others? How might I take the next step to become a more effective steward?

» What qualities in the life of Jesus provide a model for living and an example of good stewardship? How might they compare to my own life and lived experience?

» If I am to work to be an effective Christian steward, with the help of God’s grace, what will it cost me in terms of personal sacrifice and hardship? Am I willing to take the next step?

n How am I reaching out to invite others to recognize their gifts? What opportunities do I provide for them to employ those gifts for the good of the community?

While directed at young adults, everyone would do well to reflect on these questions. Ultimately, the call to be thankful and generous is everyone’s call to Christian stewardship — for children first learning about it, to us adults who must teach them and live out the values we talk about.

A good resource to learn more about stewardship is the archdiocesan Office of Development and Stewardship. Find out more at http://www.archspm.org/departments/development-stewardship/index.php, or call (651) 290-1610.

Category: Editorials, Spotlight