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For nearly a century, Lutheran Laity Movement for Stewardship assisted, inspired and trained congregations in important ways. LLM ceased operations on May 31, 2003, but the Stewardship of Life Institute is proud to continue its work by making its web resources available to a new generation of stewards.


Management is a Learned Art

By the Rev. L. Douglas Stowe

When you sit back and think about it, all of us are managers. We spend our days making decisions about how we will use our abilities, time, and our resources. Of course, many of our decisions are framed in ways that can limit the scope of our choices. A four year old may have her choices framed by the limits of the backyard, while we as adults, for example, may have our incomes limited by the career fields that we enter and the state of the health of that particular avocation. To see reality and to make decisions that are in harmony with God's will for our lives is not a natural reaction to life's situations.

The management of our lives as Christians is a learned art that is the Holy Spirit's work of making us more nearly whole. Sanctification is the theological word for this process of growth. As Christians, we are charged with the vocation of being stewards of our lives and all of creation. In particular, we are especially challenged to manage that part of creation in which we are placed to live and utilize our gifts.

But our skills of Christian Management are not natural. We are naturally selfish and look out for ourselves and maybe those immediately around us. The result of this reality is that we are by nature "takers" and not "givers."

This attitude of selfishness is a part of what scripture means when it says we are by nature sinful and unclean. For us to be good managers, we must be turned from takers into givers and this requires the action of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit confronts and challenges us in his workshop, The Church, with that old reality which reminds us; "All that we are and all that we have is God's gift to us and how we use our talents and resources is our gift back to God."

The Christ-like attitude of recognizing that we are stewards, of not only our own lives and resources, but are to be caretakers of all of creation is the response that we are called to share as the Church - the people of God. That attitude, my friends, is a learned response. On this side of eternity, we never arrive at full stewardship. However, faithfulness means that we are in the process of growing in our art of management as we practice the Christian stewardship of our lives.

Sometimes we feel uncomfortable, offended, guilty, or even angry, when Christ, through His church, challenges us to give back to God what He has first given us. When this happens, we see in ourselves the natural resentment that led to the fall of humanity in the first place. The "evil one" leads us to rebellion by convincing us to view who we are and what we have as belonging to us. This is the reason why the management of our lives is an art that is learned as we gather around the Word of truth and integrate what it is that the Creator expects of His creations - you and me.

The Rev. L. Douglas Stowe is senior pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Hampton, Va. He wrote this article for the Spring 1993 issue of Faith in Action.

Copyright 1993, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
This essay appeared in the Faith in Action. Articles from Faith in Action may be reproduced for use in ELCA and ELCIC congregations provided each copy carries the note:
Copyright 1996, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Reprinted with permission.