Diocesan News

Stewardship in Action Being Right Where God Intends

(Note: This will be my last article as my husband has taken the job of Chief of Police in Yankton S.D., and our family will be moving. As I leave this position and my work with the Lincoln Diocese I thank you all for your part in my journey of faith. You have ALL — priests and lay people — helped me to become a better Catholic, and a better STEWARD! Be assured of my continued prayers! — Jody Paulsen)

As I sit and write this, my last article, and bid farewell, I rub my chin, wondering after five years what stewardship means to the Lincoln Diocese.

Has there been change in our thinking?

Has the diocese begun that lifelong faith journey within the individual parish families?

Have we shifted from the fear of “a woman from Lincoln” coming to your parish only to spy on you or to swindle money for the bishop using the “code” word, “stewardship”?

Is there more comfort, and less fear, in that “stewardship” word?

In my reflection I see there has been a shift — or should I say — a conversion!

We have gone from transporting a snow cone machine; providing an ample supply of “the BEST” dark chocolate bars for medicinal purposes; conversations about the missions of Jack Bauer; attending rival football games between two Catholic high schools (that will go unmentioned) and always cheering for the RIGHT team; midnight showings of Spiderman; rescuing lost seminarians in Plattsmouth; selling used cars; taking stewardship on vacation to Colorado… to… a chocolate chip cookie ministry, a Father Stewardship, and to a healthy comparison (or should we say competition?) among parishes to have a stronger stewardship lifestyle with more engaged parishioners (I won’t mention winning Spoons and Pitch at all cost, no matter who you must sacrifice, or the golden rule: to never outbid your partner—there is only ONE exception to the rule!)

“In the lives of disciples, however, something else must come before the practice of stewardship. They need a flash of insight — a certain way of seeing — by which they view the world and their relationship to it in a fresh, new light.” (Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response pg 39) Pastors understand that they too must go through the conversion just as their parishioners.

They know that they must be an example, living stewardship, and leading their parishioners to that lifestyle. They see how this benefits and leads their parishioners to that stage of engagement so they too can see the richness of their Catholic faith. As shepherds of their parish, pastors pray that their parishioners may see and experience the love, grace and mercy of our God, and yet understand that IT is all about the Eucharist and not the priest.

This conversion to a stewardship way of life means living our life in a different way.

“Stewardship is an expression of discipleship with the power to change how we understand and live out our lives.” (Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response pg 2)

We understand that all that we have and are come from God. Stewardship is an understanding that God has a plan for our life, and our job as disciples is to willingly accept this, freely handing our lives over to Him. We must TRUST that he knows what is best.

Many times we want to take a hold of our lives and think that He must not be paying attention as what is happening obviously is not the best for us. Then as we ride through the rough spot, we look back and see the pain and discomfort we endured and realize how we have been drawn closer to God or how we’ve touched another life… etc.

“Mature disciples make a conscious, firm decision, carried out in action, to be followers of Jesus Christ no matter the cost to themselves. A disciple is both a learner and companion of Jesus Christ, as well as one open to the movement of the Holy Spirit towards a gracious generosity of heart.” (Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response pgs 1-2)

Stewardship is about having our eyes and ears open to the opportunity to share God and His kingdom with others. It means living our faith out loud 24/7. (It seems so easy a Geico caveman could do it — unfortunately many times we miss the obvious). Being a disciple means saying “yes” to whatever God asks of you, whenever He asks it.

“We have to do the works of the One who sent me while it is day.” (John 9:1-41)

Stewardship is a lifelong journey therefore it is not a program with a completion but a continuous formation of disciples. It is one that requires a continuous conversion for us as disciples. It keeps us fresh and alive in our faith, and constantly challenges us to weave our faith life into our secular everyday worldly life. It challenges us at times to be different than the norm — to stand up and sometimes alone for our faith. We may sometimes be ridiculed and persecuted — known as a “Jesus freak” or “crazy church lady.” But the Lord reminds us of the rewards that await us when we choose to live this lifestyle.

“He will repay everyone according to his conduct.” (Matthew 6:21-27)

He also reminds us that there will be an accounting for our behaviors and works someday and reminds us to live like we are always ready for that time.

As I leave this position in the diocese as assistant director of stewardship, of leading the charge to a stewardship way of life, and doing the job God has called me to do, know that the journey for all of us is not yet completed. As a diocese, I pray that you continue to forge forward “living your faith out loud!” And may the blessings of a stewardship lifestyle continue to be granted you. As I shed the tears for the friends and work I leave behind, and will so deeply miss, I must trust that (as one of the priests told me 5 years ago as I began this work)

“God has me right where he wants me.”

I leave you with the words of Jesus from John 20:19-31, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

P.S. To all my co-workers at the chancery offices... It is now safe to open your doors. The loudest person in the chancery has left the building.

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