What Stewardship Means to Me
Dr Michael Pikos is a member of the St Nicholas Cathedral Stewardship Committee
When I think of the word stewardship in connection with our church, I think of this as being our ultimate calling as followers of Christ. We only have to look at Genesis 1:28 where God gave His first directive to Adam and Eve – that they have “dominion over every living thing that moves on earth”. And I am reminded that in reality God owns everything on earth including all that each of us own – Psalm 24:1 (“the earth is the Lord’s, and all it’s fullness. The world and those who dwell therein”)
So if our Lord is the owner then I am not. Instead, I am His steward or manager. And that to me means being a steward of my time, talents, family, work, etc. I see this as both an awesome honor and responsibility for all aspects of my life. As a result, I feel most blessed to know that a true understanding of biblical stewardship has allowed me to have a spiritual base as to my perspective with regard to my family, my work, all relationships and especially with my church. It has given me the understanding to realize that a huge level of commitment is necessary with all of my relationships, especially that with our Lord. That said, I am most grateful for everything that I have including all of my material items.
I had the good blessing of being raised in one household with both my parents and maternal grandparents for the first 10 years of my life in Campbell, Ohio. I watched my parents, grandparents and so many other parishioners who gave of their time and talents in building our church (Archangel Michael) and maintaining it. There was a true sense of stewardship among all of our parishioners. Whatever was needed was done, and with a strong sense of humility, servant mentality, and selfless attitude. This left a strong impression in my mind that has continued to this day. These folks were for the most part immigrants, just as was true for the founding of St. Nicholas.
Indeed we have a rich heritage and I understand the importance of the word stewardship in every sense of the word. Only each of us can know what this means with respect to our church whether it’s giving of our talents, time and or money. Every one of us is going to give account to our Lord for our stewardship over our material resources. Everything the Lord entrusts in us is ultimately His and the highest and best use for it is to maximize its use for eternal glory.
When I am at the awesome judgement seat and have to give an account of how I managed God’s resources (Matthew 25:21), I pray that He will say “well done good and faithful servant”.
What Stewardship Means to Me
Patty Pappas Tsaoussis is a member of the Philoptochos Board at St Nicholas
Stewardship to me means love. Love of God, his church (people), ministries; the faith. As a child, being a steward of the church meant being a "member". What did a "member" mean to a young child, you ask? My Mother was not Orthodox in faith before she met my father, but converted when she married. It took time for my mother to embrace the faith but it took longer for many parishioners to embrace the "xeni" or foreigner. I always seem to remember my Dad saying, ''we have to pay our stewardship first.'' For whatever reason the memory I have, or really felt, was did we belong?. Did I really belong?
As I have grown older and somewhat wiser, Stewardship means so much more. Do I make the effort to make everyone feel like they belong?. Being a good steward is leading by example, guiding those they may need help whether spiritually, financially, emotionally, etc. As Stewards of the church, it is not just financially supporting our "home" but supporting those that dwell in it. It means embracing all the church has to offer and what we can provide her in return with our time and talents. Just like in our individual homes, we must nurture our spiritual home as she nurtures us. What we put in, we reap the rewards in multitudes.
Over the years I have personally been involved in Feeding the Hungry, involved with the Philoptochos (Friends of the Poor) both on a local level and through the Metropolis of Chicago Board. Did you know that Philoptochos is the largest Christian Women's Charitable Organization in the country with 27,000+ members? It's mission is to:
- Aid the poor, the destitute, the hungry, the aged, the sick, the unemployed, the orphaned, the imprisoned, the widowed, the handicapped, the victims of disasters, to undertake the burial of impoverished persons and to offer assistance to ANYONE who may need the help of the Church.
- To promote the charitable, benevolent, and philanthropic purposes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, through instructional programs, presentations, lectures etc.
- To preserve and perpetuate Orthodox Christian concepts and the Orthodox Christian Family, and through them, to promote the Faith and traditions, with its doctrines, canons, discipline, divine worship and customs.
Our church has so much to offer us. What are we individually and collectively as a community, willing to offer our Church in return, with Faith, Hope and Love?. It takes a village.
What Stewardship Means to Me
Lexa Shontz is a steward of St Nicholas
When I was young, I didn’t know what stewardship was. I thought you paid your dues and were a member of the church. The church was there more to serve me, rather than me serve the church. But being a steward is so much more than that…it is a way of life in which God is at the center, recognizing that everything we have comes from Him above. As a steward, I have the opportunity to give back what God first gave me, and it extends beyond my treasure to encompass my talent and my time. None of which I would have if not for the grace of God.
Practicing stewardship has helped me grow in my Orthodox faith. It is not only a reminder of gratitude for all the blessings God has given me in my life, but it keeps me grounded in the knowledge that my purpose on earth is to grow more in His image. Christ came into this world not to be served, but to serve. If our goal as Orthodox Christians is to become more “Christ-like” then we too are called to serve. We can do this by being good stewards, taking care of God’s house and each other. And when we give of ourselves, whether it be treasure, time, or talent, it’s important to remember the spirit in which we give. As 2 Corinthians 9:7 states: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Even still, it is easy to get caught up in the temptations of our material world, wanting to store our treasures like the rich fool who stored his grain. Before sharing that parable, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” When I examine where I spend my money and my time, does it truly reflect the love that I say I have for God? Not always. And that is another blessing of stewardship—it calls us to tithe or give back to God so that we don’t let greed or selfishness become a stumbling block in our faith journey.
During this Lenten Season, it is a perfect time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice God made for us out of His infinite love. He sent His Son for each and every one of us and through His glorious resurrection, He has destroyed death and given us the hope of eternal life with Him. When considering the magnitude of God’s love, it seems natural that we would want to give back to Him. And in this cheerful giving, we receive so much more than we can imagine—a contentment and peace in knowing we are doing God’s will for our life.
“What does Stewardship mean to me?“
Part 1- Background, misconceptions, and what Stewardship is to me now.
Mr. Basil Moutsatsos is a steward of St Nicholas
I grew up in the Tarpon Springs community and like so many others I was an active member of the church. From altar boy, GOYA, Greek School, and volunteering, I knew I was a member of the church. But when the word “Stewardship” came around, I admit I thought it was the same thing. In fact, as the years have gone by, I never really understood what Stewardship really meant until recently.
For a little background, I was the kind of person who was lumped in with my family when it came to being listed with the church, which continued as I went to college. My parents paid my dues and kept me in good standing. Eventually I needed something from the church when I was going to be a godfather, but I realized that I hadn’t been paid up to date on my dues with the church. I was still active when I came home from college, came to church on holy days, and reveled in being a part of this community, but I was not a real member. I paid my annual dues and started that tradition for my own life. I was proud of myself for doing the right thing and I thought I was a good member of the church.
Notice that I keep using words like “dues” and “member”, as though the church was a kind of social club. Lately I have been coming to terms with the belief that I have been a “member” but not a true Steward of the church. Stewardship to me means for each of us to take a responsibility to the church not as a member but as a way in having the church be a fundamental part of our lives. The church is God’s house, but we as Stewards keep it for him as if it were our own. Like with our own homes, we either do the upkeep ourselves or we need to pay to have something done. To make sure we have money to pay for things we cannot do ourselves, we try to save money in case of emergencies. When money is too tight in our lives, we look to do the work ourselves or get help from friends and we repay them some way we can help them. For me, Stewardship works the same way, but to plan well as Stewards we need to make a specific commitment to the church to let everyone know what we are going to do for the church to help out.
“What does Stewardship mean to me?“
Part 2: Issues that come with change and a plan I am going to try to follow
Last week I discussed how Stewardship is different than being just a member and ended with a call for letting our community know what we are going to do for the church to help out. This is where I always ran into a problem. I personally did not want credit for any of my good work because I wanted the work to get done, or money donated for good cause, but I did not want to be boastful of what I did. I gave for God because it was right, and that did not need credit for my own advancement. With different kinds of donations, I can still see where this mentality can work, but with Stewardship what I am giving, in either money or volunteering, is not a donation.
For me now, Stewardship is not a gift, but it is my part of being a family committing to take care of each other in our joined love for our faith, our church, and our community. When it comes to volunteering, we all need to know what we are all doing so we don’t all show up to do the same one thing as we need 1000 things throughout the course of a year. When it comes to making a commitment of money, it is not a donation, but a pledge told to the church specifically, so the Church Board and Clergy know what to expect for the year as a budget. The church can plan to fix what is needed in a responsible way and not have to cry out for an emergency fix.
So, what does someone pledge to the church? I have started to think about how I pledge to take care of my own home and immediate family. I used to pay rent and now a mortgage, and I am ashamed to admit that I never gave more to the church for my yearly monetary donation as I did in paying my rent/mortgage for one month of that year. At times I just couldn’t, other times when I could afford to give more, I kept giving the same. But I always saw it as a donation. Now, I am starting to see it differently and by pledging to the church what I plan to do, I feel more connected to the church. I also don’t want to let the church down, so I am going to start slowly and build into a more connected life with the church by trying to be a good Steward. I still may not have it right, but I think I am on a better path. It will take time and I know we are all here to help each other like a true community.
Mr. Basil Moutsatsos is a Steward of St Nicholas