Friday, January 8, 2010

Stewardship: A Foundational Principle of Zion

I love to organize. I have been doing it since I was very young when I used to arrange my toys carefully in the milk crate that they were stored in. Over time I learned various things about organization and various techniques, but I never really understood how the things I did fit into the framework of my religious beliefs until I really began to study the principle of stewardship. Learning about this principle opened up to me the deep ‘why’s of organization from a gospel perspective and even showed me what the purpose of it was.

I really think that in order to build Zion, we have to begin by understanding the principles upon which it is based and begin to practice them in our lives. Stewardship is one of these principles and it is something that can prepare us for Zion.

All things belong to the Lord
I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine. (D&C 104:14)
This world may talk of ownership; we may say that such-and-such belongs to us, but ultimately, the Lord owns it, He gives it to us, and…

We are stewards
…every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property, or that which he has received by consecration, as much as is sufficient for himself and family. (D&C 42:32)
For me, learning that I am a steward took away any reason to be greedy. If I’m not the one who really owns something, what am I getting competitive and covetous about? Suddenly having what I needed seemed like enough. Stewardship helped me become more content.

Everyone should have a stewardship
It is wisdom in me; therefore, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall organize yourselves and appoint every man[, woman, and child] his stewardship; (D&C 104:11, brackets added)
There are many aspects to our stewardships. Everyone has the stewardship of time and energy to use as they think proper. There is the stewardship of our family—spouse, younger siblings, children, etc. Then there is the stewardship of space, money, property. Then there is the stewardship of our employment, educational opportunities, and church callings. There is the stewardship of our knowledge and the gospel doctrine and our testimony. There is the stewardship of our talents and abilities.

Stewardship is intended for personal development, self-improvement, and to serve others
And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—(D&C 82:18)
Faithfulness required
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man [, woman, and child] be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2, brackets are mine)
Thou shalt be diligent in preserving what thou hast, that thou mayest be a wise steward; for it is the free gift of the Lord thy God, and thou art his steward. (D&C 136:27)
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. (Mosiah 4:27)
Set in order your houses; keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you. (D&C 90:18)
40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth….
42 You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.
43 And now a commandment I give unto you—if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house….see that they are more diligent and concerned at home, and pray always, or they shall be removed out of their place.
(D&C 93:40,42-43, 50)
The principle of stewardship is at the foundation and so we really can’t start learning about it too early. When we teach children to clean their rooms and make their beds and do their laundry, we need to start by teaching them the principle of stewardship and explain to them what their stewardship is. Then we need to teach them how to do the tasks that are a part of their stewardship and be willing to guide them through it until they can do it on their own.
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; (D&C 88:119)
Organization allows us to be prepared. Preparation allows us to anticipate needs and plan ahead for long term needs instead of being at the mercy of circumstances.
Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion. (D&C 132:8)
123 See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.
124 Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. (D&C 88:123-124)
These verses are not a random list of things to do that were just crammed together. They are actually a list relating to various aspects of individual stewardship, beginning with the most important aspect of interpersonal relationships.

Relationship stewardship
  • Love one another
  • Learn to impart
  • Cease to find fault
Temporal stewardship
  • Cease covetousness
  • Learn to impart
  • Cease to be idle
  • Cease to be unclean
Stewardship of our bodies
  • Cease to be unclean
  • Don’t sleep too long
  • Retire to bed early
  • Arise early
I have to add that keeping the Word of Wisdom also helps us be faithful in the stewardship of our bodies.

Faithfulness should be observed regardless of stewardship size
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. (Luke 16:10)
11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? (Luke 16:11-12)
This is why it is important for us to avoid covetousness. It is very easy want another person’s stewardship while neglecting the one we have.

We will be held accountable for our stewardship
And also, my servants who are abroad in the earth should send forth the accounts of their stewardships to the land of Zion (D&C 69:5)
And an account of this stewardship will I require of them in the day of judgment. (D&C 70:4)
Accountability and responsibility increases with the size of the stewardship
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)
Reward for good stewardship
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matthew 25:21)
And he that is a faithful and wise steward shall inherit all things. Amen. (D&C 78:22)
Punishment for bad stewardship
1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. (Luke 16:1-2)
47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. (Luke 12:47-48)
And even the bishop, who is a judge, and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead. (D&C 64:40)
Stewardship in church callings
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled…not given to wine,…not given to filthy lucre;
8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:7-9)
The priests and teachers shall have their stewardships, even as the members. (D&C 42:70)
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14)
Stewardship in government
86 Let them importune at the feet of the judge;
87 And if he heed them not, let them importune at the feet of the governor;
88 And if the governor heed them not, let them importune at the feet of the president;
89 And if the president heed them not, then will the Lord arise and come forth out of his hiding place, and in his fury vex the nation;
90 And in his hot displeasure, and in his fierce anger, in his time, will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers; (D&C 101:86-90)
If we believe that one of our government representatives has been overstepping his authority or neglecting his stewardship, we are within our rights to call for an accounting and if they are found unfaithful, it is justice that their stewardship be taken away.

Considering issues in terms of stewardship can bring greater clarity of vision to our decision-making. I know this is true, because I have seen it in my life. When I get confused and off track it is generally because I have forgotten these principles. I know that Heavenly Father wants us to take care of our stewardships and grow in our abilities so that we can build Zion. I know that He will help us as we do our best.

5 comments:

Clifford said...

Stewardship ultimately prepares us for the principle of Divine Inheritance!

Michaela Stephens said...

Very true.

MoSop said...

Great post. OK, I'm now feeling guilt thinking about the 'non-organizational' state of my house right now. I am definitely not being the best Steward. [it doesn't help that my washing machine broke down last week...] Thanks for the scriptural reminders, it gives me extra motivation to try a little harder. :)

chococatania said...

Great post. I agree on your take about the principle of stewardship.

I was at a stake conference a few years ago where our stake president said that he was receiving training from Elder Bednar. Our stake President asked Elder Bednar how to inspire us (members of the stake) to better complete our home teaching/visiting teaching assignments. Elder Bednar answered his question by saying that the Stake President needed to teach us of the principle of Stewardship.

Our stake president researched it, and you better believe we heard a few talks on the subject.

And...I have to say, those talks on stewardship did inspire me to be a better visiting teacher - they changed my perspective and heart.

anyways...thanks for the post, and for indulging my wordy comment.

Michaela Stephens said...

Mosop, I think everyone goes through disorganized stages. And of course, having a broken washing machine doesn't help. I sympathize. I'm sure you know what you need to do.

chacocatania,that's a great story about how hearing the word of God has a great influence on the minds of the people and changes behavior. Thanks for sharing that!