Hello everyone! Today I want to talk to you briefly about something that has been on my heart for some time, and it is something that I have struggled with quite a bit in my own journey. It’s the concept of stewardship, otherwise known as self management, or personal responsibility. The reason I address the issue from the angle of stewardship is because it forces me to look at each area of responsibility from a perspective of action. Sometimes when I think of it in terms of responsibility it creates a distance in my mind somehow, and it becomes more of an abstract concept as opposed to something that demands action. I know it is probably a matter a semantics, or mental gymnastics, but for me changing my perspective in that way helps me make sure I do not become passive or lazy, which is my tendency.
Thankfully over the years I have improved by developing new habits and changing the way I think about things, but this has not come naturally at all. I have always found the idea of stewardship very interesting and very challenging and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a learned skill, not a natural talent. Stewardship begins with appreciating what you have been given, and desiring to learn the skills necessary to take care of that thing. While each of us are naturally better at some aspects of personal responsibility than others, this skill will ultimately apply to everything in your life.
From your job to your finances, your relationships to how you spend your personal time, accountability and sacrifice are often required and if something is neglected long enough, you will most likely experience some form of dysfunction in that area. I mean no judgement in these statements. As I said, I have struggled with this a lot, I think we all have in some way, and there are things that have suffered in our lives because of it, and that’s ok. The important thing is to identify the areas where that kind of care is lacking, and make the appropriate changes to move it forward and create a healthy lifestyle. Anyone can change at anytime, we just have to make the decision to change.
Now, there are just a couple of quick things I want to share about my experiences with this topic, and a couple things that have helped me. Then, in the future parts of this post I want to lay out a few small challenges we all face so you can examine and evaluate how you are doing, and see if there are some areas that if some small changes were made might bring healing and rest to something that you normally find distressing and toxic.
So, here we go!!
First of all, for me, possibly the single most important thing about stewardship is that it is based on appreciation, and care, NOT fear. This is HUGE!!! As someone who has dealt with several different types of irrational fear, I can tell you this approach has been very empowering.
For example, stewardship in my finances -I am simply using this as an example, this perspective can be applied to everything you are trying to manage - instead of approaching my money from the stand point of the fear of losing it, or not having enough, my goal,(which is still in process☺), is to approach money from the perspective of appreciating the gift of provision I have been given and how I can use it as a tool for good.
If I am completely honest, I have struggled greatly with developing this kind of mentality. I can also tell you from experience that living in fear is debilitating and oppressive. Fear will paralyze you when it comes to trying to steward what you have been given well. Take my word for it, gratitude is very powerful antidote to fear!
Second, moving from the idea of appreciation, next for me came generosity. Again, this applies to everything. Why is generosity important? People, unless taught otherwise, are naturally selfish, and that is understandable to a certain point. We have to take care of ourselves and do what we’re supposed to do for ourselves so we can show up for others. But there come a point where that idea of a “healthy self”, crosses a line into selfishness, and can if we are not careful, eventually turn into self obsession. I have a feeling we all know a person or two that comes to mind when I bring that one up.
Generosity is one of THE most powerful combatants when it comes to dealing with selfishness. It immediately pulls us out of ourselves and our own world, and asks the question: How can I serve others and be a positive solution to problems I see around me? The answer to these questions are often times very small and it usually starts by asking yourself a couple questions. (It is not necessary to make some huge gesture!)
1)How can I help my partner today?
2)Is there a friend I can encourage?
3)Do I have a colleague I can support?
4)What’s happening in my neighborhood and how I can I be the solution?
Always remember, whatever positive, empowering things, large or small, you sow into another person and the community around you will come back to you. Even if the people you help end up not appreciating what you did at all,(we’ve all seen that one too, sadly, there is power in generosity. There is power in helping our neighbors and frankly, this is something I think we could use a lot more of at the moment.
So, there it is, Part 1! Look out for Part 2 soon, where we will begin discussing challenges we all face and the solutions to help bring healing to our lives. Thanks for reading along, I hope you found this encouraging, and I wish you all a blessed and empowering week!
Antony Feeny for Opera Magazine UK