Friday, October 12, 2012

Stewardship - Managing the Good... AND the Bad

Steward: One who actively directs affairs.
Stewardship: Conducting, supervising, or managing something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrust to one's care. *

We've all heard the the message that we should be good stewards. Looking at the definition above, it looks to be a pretty easy concept and principle to grasp. We are to be responsible managers of what we have, what we've earned, and what we have been given. It is our responsibility to be good managers of what good, gifts and triumphs we've been blessed by. From our talents, we are called to share in the way we can to be a positive contribution to the world. We are called to be good stewards of finance, of the environment, of our health, our education, and of our affairs. It is easy to apply this concept to the things we see before us - the things that are tangible and positive in our lives. Call it social responsibility, giving, charity, generosity, responsible administration, care - it all points back to stewardship. It's the careful and responsible management of something that's been entrusted to us -the tangible additions to our lives.

But, we are also stewards of the things that aren't tangible "goods" in our lives.

Along with being responsible managers with the positive, we are to be good stewards of the negatives as well. This isn't as easy. It is far less work to bring forth good from good than it is to bring forth good from bad. Bringing forth good from bad is actually a double effort as we try to first use it to better ourselves THEN use it in a responsible way outside of ourselves. If we are truly making efforts to be good stewards, we strive to bring it forth from both.

The tough things in life can pillage us and leave us feeling empty. Loss of a job, a relationship, a loved one, or a friend leaves behind gaps, pain and questioning. The stress of life can pull all of the energy from our souls. Personal illness, betrayal, or trauma all create a hole in us. It happens to EVERY one of us. Yet, even in our feeling of loss and hurt, we are to be good stewards of those events.

How do you know if we are good stewards of the bad?

Ask these questions:
  • Did I let this define me? An event (good or bad) is part of the landscape of who we are but it only defines us if we let it. The world may try to assign it to who we are, but we are in control of that. If we know we are more than the moment or event, we are allowing ourselves to grow.
  • Did I let this leave a hole in me? There will be some pieces of events that stay with us forever. Some things can not be replaced and will always be missed. However, if we refuse to let it leave a hole in us that allows the goodness of life and the potential for happiness drain right out of us, that is when we are being a good steward.
  • Did I learn from this event? Many things in life happen outside of our control. Some are results of things that we set in motion. Either way, ALL of the events can be learned from. We can look back at the event and see if there were some things we could have done to avoid it, and not do those things in the future. We can also look back and see that there are things that are out of our control, and learn to be prepared for the unexpected. We can also simply learn the lesson of cherishing what we have while we have it. 
  • Is there something in this that changed my heart? If your heart was hardened, it needs to be broken again. The things that happen in life should soften and expand our hearts. Even the bad. 
  • Can what happened to me in any way benefit others? We don't always know the reasons why things happen. Sometimes there is not a reason. But there is always a use for our experience in the future. Recognize when your past events allow you to feel understanding or empathy with others in the future. Your experience may have the power be a catalyst for others, or it may simply be what fosters your ability to connect and listen to another who needs to know that they aren't alone. 
When we are giving of the good, we have evidence - we can see our efforts, our dollars, or our time making a positive difference. Being a good steward to the negative isn't quite as easy to spot - yet it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the challenges, loss and disappointments.

Women Enough - it is easy to make good from good - being a good steward of the positive. Take a moment and assess if you are a good steward of the hardships as well. When you can make a positive step from a negative situation, then you are a good steward of the challenges.

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