Love heals, love reconciles,
love helps us move when we are stuck,
love helps us cast out all fear…
– Rev. Laurel Hallman
Stewardship is a holistic concept that encompasses and connects how we understand and appreciate: what we have been given and inherited, what we have earned, how we track and account for those resources, what we decide to do with them (according to our values/beliefs), and how we ensure that they are skillfully used to those purposes. As such, it is integral to our spiritual, ethical, and philosophical lives.
As Unitarian Universalists, our programs and communications addressing stewardship must be congruent with our core belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. These approaches follow the same paths that we have learned are effective in challenging sexism, bias against sexual preference, and in anti-racism: We seek to reduce generalizations and discrimination (based on giving and economic status or the indicators of status), to encourage self-examination, to promote consciousness-raising, and to understand all people as interdependent, multi-faceted, and developing over the lifespan. Shaming, judgment, assumption, reproach, guilt, pressure, elitism, censure, and demanding language (or programs built on these concepts) are inappropriate and ineffective tools to open people’s hearts to deeper stewardship.
Aligned stewardship programs and communications use:
- Orientation toward individual spiritual needs as well as the needs of organizations
- An appreciative inquiry approach
- Empowerment and choice models
- Facilitation of personal development and spiritual growth
- Inspiration and leadership
- The provision of rich information (mission, planning, accounting, etc.) to increase motivation
- Respect for each person as a rich repository of diverse resources as well as individualized needs
- Caring systems (not cold, inhumane processes)
- A respect for the challenges inherent in countering our consumer culture by aligning our values with our resources
- An understanding of the reasonable fears and past wounding that may challenge a broadening of generosity
- A view of giving and receiving as dynamically linked
Below is a hotlink to a chart intended to provide language for responding to people who are negative, frustrated, or angry about the stewardship of others. Just click on the line below:
How do you see loving stewardship as opening hearts and hands to both give and receive in your congregation? What language do you use to help you convey that?