by Aubrey Hardman
“Do you believe in God the Father?”… “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?”… “Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?”
If you’re like me, I know you immediately start reciting the BCP response to these questions from heart. “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth…”
Okay, stop! … No seriously … Okay, I’ll wait …
How many Baptismal Covenants have you sat through? Okay, if you haven’t been to many baptisms I know you’ve heard them during Easter services since that and Christmas Eve are the only services we attend. Hey now! Numbers don’t lie … 😉
Now, be honest, how much time have you spent thinking about what these vows mean? If you’re like me and probably many other Episcopalians, your answer is more than likely “not a lot.” Okay, except for you…
All kidding aside, if you answer yes to these questions (or maybe you prefer a little longer response), you are essentially acknowledging you are a member of the household of God. The renewal of baptism vows is a reminder that we are sons and daughters in God’s household.
The word steward comes from the Greek word oikonomia, which means manager or caretaker of the household. Our call to be stewards goes significantly beyond the reality of money. Our baptismal promises show us how to take care of and build God’s household.
The Episcopal Church recognized that it is the commitment of daily practice, disciplines and habits that invite the baptized into a deeper walk with Christ which is essential in taking care of God’s household. I mean, how would your house look if you didn’t wash the dishes every day, regularly sweep or vacuum, clean your bathroom, or water and mow the yard? How comfortable would you feel inviting people over, or more importantly, how comfortable would your guests feel in your house?
The same applies to the household of God. How inviting are we as a community of faith if we aren’t strengthening our faith through disciplined practice of our vows? We must acknowledge that stewardship of faith is a year-round process, not just a “season” during the annual pledge campaign. It is a way of life. Our Church leadership recognizes this and in response developed the Holy Habits.
Holy Habits were introduced at the 2003 General Convention and approved in resolution A135 which called all members of The Episcopal Church to be encouraged to develop a personal spiritual discipline that includes, at a minimum, the Holy Habits of tithing, daily personal prayer and study, Sabbath time, and regular corporate worship. The Commission asked that all churches create readily available resources to help strengthen the renewal of these crucial vows that includes a commitment to practice the Holy Habits.
In response, your Stewardship Ministry team has adopted the Barnabas Foundation’s Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Steward to serve as a tool to help all of us practice the Holy Habits daily. The Seven Habits outline a plan to nurture Holy Habits of gracious giving in our congregation to enable worship, education, fellowship and service in our community. Over the next four weeks your Stewardship Ministry team will walk through the seven habits during the Stewardship Minute and publish an article with more detailed information about each habit.
The creation of an intentional prayerful pledge commitment to practice these Holy Habits will help all of us re-commit to the promises made in our baptism to replenish and saturate God’s adopted sons and daughters with a vibrant and vital faith to continue in building up God’s household.
Will you walk with us in deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ to become better stewards of God’s household?
“I will, with God’s help.”
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Stewards
- Be thankful – live with thankful hearts.
I Thessalonians 5:18 (NRSV): Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Colossians 3:23-24 (NRSV): Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.
- Trust God to provide – abandon worry and trust God in all aspects of life, even daily living.
I Timothy 6:17 (NRSV): As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
- Be content – seek God’s guidance to want what we have, not what we don’t.
Hebrews 13:5 (NRSV): Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
- Be a faithful example – model good stewardship for our children, and a godly perspective on life.
Deuteronomy 6: 6,7 (NRSV): Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
- Live within your means – refrain from comparing ourselves to those who have more.
Philippians 4:12-13 (NRSV): I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Proverbs 22:7 (NRSV): The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
- Give time and talent – see that we are uniquely made and are called to share with others.
I Peter 4:10 (NRSV): Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
- Give treasure – prayerfully make wise spending decisions that support the Lord.
Proverbs 3:9 (NRSV) Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce
Episcopal Holy Habits:
The Episcopal Church’s Holy Habits are:
- Daily personal prayer
- Scripture study
- Regular corporate worship
- Reclaim Sabbath time
Read or download the Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Steward