By Helen Bessent Byrd (M.Div. ‘07)
There were simple things of life that many people take for granted that some did not enjoy years ago – like having your mail delivered to your door. As a child living on our farm, we did not have mailboxes at our door. Our mail was placed in our mailbox on another road two miles away. Some families who lived on our farm did not have mailboxes at all. They received mail in our box. It was sent “in care of” my parents. The people trusted my parents to be stewards of their mail and to give it to them. The mail or package coming to a steward is marked c/o, meaning “in care of.” Stewardship is being entrusted with or taking care of someone else’s possessions. The steward has responsibility and accountability for oversight of OPP (Other People’s Property). Early on, stewardship came to mean tithing or the donation of time, talents, and treasures.
The prophet Haggai wrote to a little community of struggling, disappointed, and dispirited people whose dream was fading as they teetered on the brink of extinction. Haggai expressed a vision to make them have purpose knowing that God would work among them once more (Haggai 2:7-9). He reminded them that God was the steward of all they needed and desired. Haggai quotes God who was unequivocal and emphatic in saying “The silver is mine. The gold is mine” (Haggai 2:8). God is the creator and master of the treasury of all currency, the splendor of all material possessions, the joys of all intangible blessings. They were to put the sage’s saying to work: “If you can conceive it, you can believe it and if you can believe it, you can achieve it.” With references to the traditions of the past, the prophet sought to impress upon the people that God was at work again among them who were to be stewards of others. The people followed the teaching of Haggai and his prophecy came to pass.
The generosity of God, our Master, provides for us a pattern for our response to God and our practice with each other. As we endure the challenge of envisioning and carrying out the ministry and mission to which God has called us, remember we are “in care of” an awesome God who promised, “I will fill this house with glory.” Just as God was extravagantly generous to the little Jewish community in Haggai’s time, we are in His care and He will show extravagant generosity to us. Realizing the merit of stewardship and the value of giving, know that God fully expects us to show extravagant generosity in caring for others through support of our seminary investing in the transformation of students who are called by God to give their lives for spiritual transformation of our national and global society.