Spiritual leaders answer on stewardship

Editors note: “Spiritual leaders answer” is a weekly column inviting Kaua‘i religious and spiritual leaders to share their doctrine’s perspective on a suggested subject. Every Friday a topic is printed inviting a response. Thoughts or suggestions for future topics are always welcome. Next week’s topic is on change. The topic at the end of the column is for the following week.

Rev. Rachel Schwab

Hanapepe Hawaiian

Congregational Church

“Where your treasure is, there your heart is also …” (Matthew 6:21, Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version)

In my faith tradition, the word, stewardship, is not always a joyful topic. Immediately folks associate stewardship with church finances and money. It is common to have stewardship “drives” to raise funds needed for programs and events as well as day-to-day operations of the church. Yet, today we all seem to be challenged to stretch our checkbooks a little bit further to support much needed programs, religious or secular. The truth is, stewardship is much more than about money.

Carol Wehrheim, a respected church educator, writes about stewardship in her book “Giving Together.” Christian stewardship is about the choices we make, choices that reveal the role of faith in one’s life. The choices we make — the vacation we plan or the music we listen to are about how we understand God’s world and our place in it … Stewardship is how lives are lived in God’s world and how we make these stewardship choices individually as well as together, and all those decisions affect family life.”

In this definition, money and finances are not mentioned. Yet, we are called from the very beginning of God’s creation to be wise with our use of resources — such as our time, our talents as well as our earthly treasures. Stewardship includes caring for and sharing what we have as God has intended for us. So, we then are all stewards because we have been called by our traditions to care, share and reach out in a world where our natural resources are slowly shifting and changing.

As I would tell my parishioners, it doesn’t matter the quantity of what is given. The quality of the treasure is most important, and it should come from the heart. We all have value in this world and can give of ourselves in a variety of ways. Folks volunteer in the food pantry, assist in worship or teach a class on Sunday mornings. We can plant a garden or mow the grass for a neighbor in need. But don’t do it because you have to — do it because we all called to contribute from the heart. This is stewardship. How will you respond?

The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Koloa

As citizens of the world we each bear the moral and ethical responsibility for taking care of each other and of the Earth. Baha’u’llah, prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith, enjoins His followers to develop a sense of world citizenship and a commitment to stewardship of the Earth. His writings are imbued with a deep respect for the natural world and for the interconnectedness of all things. They emphasize that the fruits of God’s love and obedience to His commandments are dignity, nobility and a sense of worth. From these attributes emerge the natural inclination to treat one another with love and compassion, and the willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of society. Baha’u’llah also teaches moderation, a commitment to justice, and detachment from the things of this world — spiritual disciplines which enable individuals to contribute to the establishment of a prosperous and united world civilization. The broad pattern for such a civilization and the principles on which it should be based are set forth in Baha’u’llah’s revelation, a revelation which offers hope to a dispirited humanity and the promise that it is truly possible both to meet the needs of present and future generations and to build a sound foundation for social and economic development. The inspiration and the vision for this civilization are captured in Baha’u’llah’s words: “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”

This attitude of respect is further reinforced by copious metaphorical references to the natural world woven throughout the Baha’i scriptures. However, while nature is greatly valued and respected, it is not to be worshipped or adored. Rather it is to serve the purpose given by God to the human race: To carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. In this regard, the Baha’i faith promotes a world view that is neither bio-centric nor, strictly speaking, anthropocentric, but rather theocentric, with the revelations of God at its center. Humankind, as it strives to carry out the divine will in this, the physical realm, is thus the trustee or steward of nature.

Topic for two weeks from today:

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