What does it mean to be a steward? Often we think of stewards or stewardship as it relates to money, but the word steward applies to many different things. As a matter of fact, it may apply to almost anything. Steward, in its most basic form, means to manage or tend to something. For example, on a cruise ship, the people who care for your cabin are called cabin stewards. Your room has been placed in their care and it is their responsibility to look after it.
We appreciate when others steward things for us, but we probably don’t think as much about what we should be stewarding ourselves. Each of us is a steward of the things we have been fortunate enough to have in our lives. It is not just money or possessions. We have been given so much more. I think all of us could spend a little time evaluating our stewardship. I think there are four good questions that will help us evaluate where we are and how we could improve.
What have I had?
No matter who you are, all of us have had things. One of the first questions we should ask ourselves is what have we been given or what have we had. What did my family environment look like growing up or in years past? What did you gain from that family unit? What education was I given and what have I learned? What jobs have I held and how did they benefit or hurt me? What have my past relationships looked like? What of those have been beneficial and which ones were harmful? What talents and gifts were given to me? What things have people invested into my life? What opportunities have I had in my past? All of us have had many things in our live over the years. We rarely take time to inventory them, but knowing what we have had may give us some insight into why we are where we are and teach us some things going forward.
What have I done with what I have had?
Once you have that list, think about what you did with what you had. Did those relationships flourish? Did you excel in school or just get by? Did you work diligently at the jobs you were given or did you just show up? What do I have to show for what I have been given? Are there some things I could have done differently? Have I learned any lessons with the things I have been given? What we have done with what we have been given is an indicator of what we might do in the future. If we are not aware of poor choices behind us, it will be difficult for us to make good choices ahead of us. This exercise can be painful, but it will also be beneficial.
What do I have?
It is not enough to evaluate what is behind you. We appreciate when others steward things for us, but we probably don’t think as much about what we should be stewarding ourselves. The next stewardship question you want to ask is “what do I have?”. This will include assets or money, but it is certainly not limited to that. Maybe you have an opportunity in front of you. What does your family unit look like today? For example, my family unit looks completely different than it did 20 years ago. I have a blended family (lessons should have been learned) with three grandchildren. These are all things I need to steward. I have a career and influence that I need to steward. I have relationships that need my attention. As I take an inventory of what I have, I can clearly understand there is great responsibility. This is a great place to spend a little time be thankful as well.
This is where stewardship gets put into action. Maybe you have previously struggled in an area. What are you going to do moving forward? If your stewardship needs to improve, there are some other questions you can ask yourself. Who can assist me? There are people who have expertise in an area you are struggling with and they can help guide you in stewarding what you have going forward. This can be anyone from a financial advisor to a marriage counselor. What do I need to know? All of us need to be learning and growing, but you may need to know something specific. There may be a book or an online class that would solve the very thing you need to know right now to help you manage what you have been given. Being a good steward means knowing what we are going to do with what we have.
Some of us are better stewards in one area of life than another. We can all improve somewhere and asking these questions of ourselves will greatly improve our stewardship. Don’t get discouraged. Be determined to improve and change. Everything around us will improve as we improve our ability to steward.