I’d like to stretch your thinking about stewardship today. Go beyond the popular environmental persuasions to save the planet’s resources and typical discussions about being a good steward of your finances. These are very important, but I want to extend that thought.
I’m suggesting a whole new mindset about nearly every aspect of your life.
- How would your life change if you had an acute awareness that everything you possess and are a part of is temporal and will someday belong to someone else?
- What benefits would result with such a change in mindset?
Everything we possess is on loan, and temporal, including our earthly roles and responsibilities. A sense of humility and long-term perspective is required to accept this fact. Where is your understanding of this reality, my friend?
My revelation of this fact developed gradually in phases, because of different jobs I had in my early twenties.
First, my revelation about possessions occurred when working as an auction clerk in my small town, which involved going through deceased people’s possessions and setting up for an estate auction. After the family had chosen items they wished to keep, I noticed that often 75% – 80% of the household was left to bidders to haul away. These images have stuck with me. I learned that price paid does not dictate value, and that things are to be enjoyed but then passed on, not hoarded in basements or garages. I also learned to take care of things so that someday they will still be of value to someone else.
My second revelation came during my first and second teaching jobs. Each time I was replacing a woman that had held the job for decades. Each woman was kind to leave behind everything that would help my first year be easier, but even more valuable, they made themselves available before school started to meet me and walk me through things you only learn by experience. That attitude of caring about the role they were leaving, and entrusting to someone new, stuck with me, and as I taught, I was always careful to create files and leave things organized so that my successor would have a great start to their new career.
There are many benefits to having a stewardship mentality.
When you have a stewardship mentality with your possessions, you will take care of things and appreciate them more. This results in satisfaction of things looking nicer, lasting longer, and holding more value when you are finished with it. For instance, taking care of your vehicle by keeping up with regular maintenance, and treating it as valuable, will make even a high mileage old car or truck worth more to the next buyer.
Another benefit of the stewardship mentality is that you will develop a thoughtful, caring attitude to leave things in good shape for the next owners. This includes the planet, a job, cars, your house, books, furniture, and equipment. Thinking of others down the road who can get more use and enjoyment out of your possessions when you are finished with them is a sign of good character, not to mention better for our planet.
A stewardship mentality about your job can give you a greater sense of purpose. Thinking about how your position will play a role in your organization after you leave it should inspire you to make it as great as you can so that it is solid when you are ready to leave. Mentor the ones who will be moving into your position someday. It’s not that things will not change when you leave, but make sure your successors appreciate the vision and have the tools and a roadmap to get a good start.
A Stewardship mindset benefits you and others. As your collection of material things grow during your lifetime, and as you work through your career path, I hope you apply this mindset, and experience the satisfaction it will bring.
For an even more expanded view on stewardship, check out this video: