a stewardship reflection by Courtney Mullaney
Ever since stewardship chairman Aubrey Hardman asked me to stand in front of you all & speak about stewardship, all I could think was, “Why me?” I asked this not because I dislike speaking in public, that’s something I rather enjoy from time-to-time, but because I’m one of the least likely to qualify for speaking on this topic.
My whole life I’ve shied away from asking people for money. My dad took every fundraiser flier to work with him and I felt lucky that our only neighbors were my grandparents so that I wasn’t required to walk door-to-door to ask people to give to me. I specifically chose a profession in which I didn’t have to ‘sell’ anything—that just didn’t fit for me. In church, the stewardship campaigns of old made me feel all shifty in my seat, eyes darting, a sense of distaste in my mouth.
In my mind, money has been a dirty word and I figured it was needy to discuss in public. I decided I would work toward the other parts: my prayers, my presence, my service, but I would keep my gifts to myself, thank you very much. Some wealthy family could handle that part—we could make up for our lack of giving money by putting time in. I figured that our budget was too tight, the gifts would have to come from someone else.
So you may wonder how the heck I ended up here, today, at this lectern. Luckily for Aubrey, my other weakness paired nicely with my aversion to asking for money—I have a hard time saying no when someone asks. I quickly dashed off a happy email in reply to Aubrey, thinking how great it was that someone in a newish place wanted me to speak. . . .until I realized that I actually had to come up with something to say and it had to be believable. It was tempting, so tempting, to stand up here and say something about how Jesus says to give, so we all should–period; but I knew it would fall flat—I have no poker face.
In addition to speaking on a subject which I feel like I’m not qualified, I’m speaking on the last Sunday of our Stewardship Campaign, after a series of inspired, gifted storytellers that left me with glistening eyes, jaw dropped. And here is where I figure that my ‘angle’ comes in. We have heard from members who are examples, they are the “Have Dones.” I cannot count myself among their ranks, I’ve always placed myself solidly in the “Will Do’s. . . Someday.” I have let the Have Dones shepherd me along, providing for my well-being, playing the role of parents, caretakers, stewards.
My unspoken belief has been that I’ll support something with my money when it’s easy, when I won’t even notice those dollars exiting our budget each month. I once heard a minister in a Unity Church speak on the concept of “the universe will expand to accommodate your dreams.” A lesson that basically says “if you believe it, it will happen.” “Leap and trust that everything will work out.” Faith, or an Oprah show theme?
All of my life changes have brought about anxiety, obsessive thoughts, circling enactments of what could happen. How can I make this car payment? How will we afford the new house payment? A baby? Eating rice and beans will help us pay for childcare, right? A second baby? We’ll do this, it’ll be okay, right? On the night we found out that our third baby was, unexpectedly, on the way, I cried on the phone to my friend that we would never have a vacation ever again.
In August, on Kellen’s first birthday, we had a short family vacation. It took focus, commitment to find those extra dollars to make it work, but the universe expanded and we did it. Isn’t it time, then, to take that leap and trust that the universe will expand to allow for stewardship of SMiTF? It is our time, my time, to become a “Will Do—This Year,” for stewardship, becoming an “Am Doing” with absolute uncertainty mirrors the journey of Christ. “Stewardship is the acceptance or assignment of responsibility to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others.” If you have been in the ranks of the “Will Do’s,” please join me in becoming an “Am Doing,” shepherding and safeguarding the valuables here, in this place with our presence, our service, AND our gifts. The universe, aka GOD, will help us to find the room, to expand in order to meet our dreams. Soon, soon, WE will join the ranks of the “Have Dones,” and that is right where God hopes us to be.