Do you have a personal stewardship definition? What is the definition of stewardship? Well according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it’s “the office, duties, and obligations of a steward”. And what’s a steward? Well, in loose terms, a steward is a manager; someone who has something entrusted to their care. Okay, fine; that seems kind of vague, but I get the general idea. The problem is, ‘stewardship’ is a very powerful word but it can mean lots of different things to different people. For example, there is religious stewardship, environmental stewardship, fiscal stewardship and health stewardship to name a few big uses of the term. So I guess the bigger question would be “What does stewardship mean to me?”
Rob Douglas, on his blog Transform And Enrich puts it this way:
“Whether it is about buying cars, Coke or washing detergent, television commercials tell me that the most important person in my life is me. Of course, at one level they are quite correct, because if I don’t look after myself I just may not be in a fit state to look after anyone else. But there is a sense in which my concern for the good of others is a very important part of who I am, so to neglect my need to love and support others is in essence a neglect of the real me.
Take this argument a step further. If all my responsibilities are focused on me and my needs, these responsibilities eventually lose their value. However, the value of these responsibilities, and therefore the benefit that I will gain from them, comes when I acknowledge that what I am doing has a higher benefit.
…Stewardship means putting my best into what I do and nourishing the relationships I have so that the people around me will benefit. It means taking personal responsibility for maintaining a high and noble view of life and looking beyond the present and the mundane.”
This is kind of the 10,000-foot view of stewardship, and I think Rob is right on with this. But he also manages to bring the concept down to the everyday level with the following:
“As we think about all that we have responsibility for in the workplace, the hardware and property, the people, the relationships, and the intellectual property, we can take the view that these things are just paperbacks that we have picked up at the local book exchange, or we can treasure them like some of my dad’s old books that carry memories, emotion, history and value.”
Isn’t that cool? Don’t you like the way that he just takes the higher concept of stewardship and injects it right into our daily workplace life? I like that, and I think it’s a pretty neat way to look at stewardship – a way that some may not have thought about before. I think if we would start to more highly value a lot of the things we usually take for granted, it would go a long way towards helping us to appreciate the awesomeness that is all around us and help us to do a little more giving and a little less taking.
What do you think? Have you ever thought about what stewardship means to you?