Janis spends a lot of time offering up her talents and treasures at her church in Washington, DC where she serves as Outreach Co-chair.
The Beauty of a Church Home is Maintained Through Stewardship
Balancing Church Commitments Through Stewardship
The following is a stewardship message delivered to the congregation of Saint George's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. Many churches plan a stewardship program at particular times of the year as a precursor to the annual pledge campaign. Activities include:
- An introductory kick-off message
- Dissemination of information packets with a pledge card
- Stewardship messages and testimonials from parishioners
- Bible Study Group
- Special Service and Festive Luncheon
In preparation for contributing to a new church budget plan, parishioners do a lot of soul searching and practical second-takes of their lifestyles and finances. This is also a time to look at which church ministries they could take on, based on their talents, skills, and ability to give of their time.
A Stewardship Message: Time, Talent and Treasure
Greetings Brothers and Sisters, Reverend Kent! 'Tis the season! 'Tis the season when we search ourselves to discern how to "Live Each Day as a Steward," through our personal interpretations of what it means to live out the Gospel through the 3 Ts: Time, Talent, and Treasure. How do we balance our lives as we attempt to live as good and faithful stewards?
Being good and faithful stewards doesn't just mean we give a little time here, share a talent annually or drop a little money in the plate here and there. Being a devoted and faithful steward requires some sacrifice, not to the point where stewardship has to wear us out (though it sometimes does) but at least to the point where it feels meaningful and purposeful, so that in the end, you know you've made a difference in the world by expanding God's kingdom. It starts here at Saint George's, where you've chosen to be an active member.
Carrying out the Gospel with our time, talent, and treasure, while living out the challenging demands of everyday life, is not an easy task. It's not easy to find a balance for the following reasons:
- It's taxing to be available to your church when you don't have the time.
- It takes stamina to offer your special skills and talents when you're already feeling overworked.
- And it takes a lot of juggling and discernment to give up your treasure when you're not sure you'll have enough to make ends meet.
So we as stewards with good intention find ourselves making hard decisions on how much time, which talents, and how much treasure we can offer to Saint George's.
But I contend that between the three, the most difficult to discern is the giving up of our time. If you think about it for a moment, we can manage the giving up of our talents and treasure because, to an extent, we have more control over them. We have less control over our time. It requires a lot more sacrifice to give your time than it does your talent and treasure.
For example, it's not hard to give of your talent because you are engaged in a task that you've already mastered and you probably love doing. Our music director, for example, has a passion for music and education, so she enjoys teaching music and directing the choir. Another faithful member has a natural talent for arts and crafts and will whip up a bulletin board for any occasion because she loves doing it. And another member with a green thumb full of passion for gardening naturally makes her commitment to the beautification of the grounds. So I would say offering your special talents is the easiest of the 3Ts.
Traditional Offering Plate for Weekly Giving
Stewardship of Our Talent
Offering a Voice to the Choir is a Form of Stewardship
Next we have treasure. We truly have more control over the giving up of our treasure than we think.
For example, that pair of silver earrings on sale that you bought to go with the ten pair you already have? Did you really need them or could that have been an extra $30 to place under designated funds for a particular church ministry?
Or that time at Lowe's when you bought that tool you really didn't need but might need for that project you never get to: Could that have been $25 extra for the "Securing the Dream Campaign?" Or the latest iPhone you just spent a few hundred dollars for with all the apps? Could you have chosen something more practical? Maybe, or maybe not.
You see, some of us really do have more treasure to stretch around than we thought. Black women alone could save the world with the billions of dollars they put into the hair care industry per year . . . and look good doing it! But I digress.
Stewardship of Our Treasure
Stewardship Requires Discernment, Sacrifice and Prayer
When it comes to our time, that's when we need to stop . . . . and pray. Being available when you don't have the time, in addition to being physically tired, is so hard. It can barely be done without making some sort of sacrifice. Something will have to be missed, something else will have to wait, and something else will have to go undone. But with prayer, we can find comfort in our hearts and troubled minds that everything will be taken care of, that all is not that critical and that everything is not an emergency.
As we move through "Securing the Dream" and attempt to maintain activity at this church on the corner of 2nd and U Streets, we need more of us giving up our time, i.e., our physical presence and our hands to do the work. It's not easy being available when you don't have the time. We must pray to God to give us the strength to get it all done as a team, in His time, not ours. We are on His clock and not our own. Does anybody really know what time it is?
All we really know or should know is that tomorrow is not promised, but joy will come in the morning. So let each of us make good use of the time God has allotted to us by giving the time we have, when we can and making the sacrifices that need to be made in order to carry out the work God has given us to do, to the glory of His name. And let the church say, "Amen."
Balancing Time, Talent and Treasure at Your Church
The purpose of sharing my stewardship message is to offer insights and encourage members and clergy of other churches to look at stewardship from another point of view. Hopefully, your engagement in prayer and discernment will be enhanced as you develop and carry out your own stewardship programs.
Although we always remain faithful in our ability to accomplish all of the tasks God wants us to do in fulfilling His purpose through our gifts, it is important to be practical in thinking about how we use our time, talent, and treasure to His optimal glory. We can increase our chances of striking a balance between the uses of our gifts and meeting life's obligations by following these basic guidelines, supported by scripture:
- Engage in regular self-care which includes proper rest, exercise, good nutrition, and time management - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- Commit to regular prayer and meditation to remain focused, energized, and connected to Spirit - Philippians 4:6-7
- Set good boundaries by delegating, learning to say "no," and asking for help to avoid burnout - Ephesians 4:11-13
- Avoid the "Jack of all trades and master of none" syndrome; spreading yourself too thin can decrease efficiency and completion of projects - Romans 12:3-8
Remember to make time to take good care of yourself physically and spiritually, as you work toward being a good and faithful steward of the gifts the Lord has bestowed upon you. Make good use of your time, talents, and treasure which is also a way to display your appreciation and thankfulness of blessings received.
[Janis Leslie Evans is Outreach Chair, Saint George's Episcopal Church, Washington, DC]
Stewardship at Your Church
Time, Talent or Treasure
Stewardship Includes Balancing Our Financial Commitments
© 2014 Janis Leslie Evans