Throughout religious texts and especially those of the ‘people of the Book’ – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – there are countless references to ‘stewardship’ and how we should be ‘good stewards’.
Much has been written and preached on the subject of stewardship, but few people really understand what it’s all about.
For most people the concept of a ‘steward’ is usually someone who serves or looks after them on a ship or aircraft or helps manage a sporting event.
This how ever is far, far, removed from the original concepts of stewardship and being a steward.
In earlier times a steward was a high official, someone charged with the management or oversee of an estate or even a country in the absence of the owner or ruler.
Denethor in ‘Lord of the Rings’ was the ‘Steward of Gondor’ responsible for the success of the Realm in the absence of the King.
Stewardship carried a high responsibility, the main function being to ensure, not only that the estate was maintained at the level at which the owner left it but also that it grew and prospered and was returned to the owner in a better state.
Psalm 24 verse 1 says: “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord”
Although sometimes difficult to interpret the writings, whether they be Jewish, Islamic or Christian, all make it very clear that ‘Man’ is the intended steward of the earth and everything in it.
The trouble is that we, the ‘human race’, have spent so long fighting over the various interpretations that we’ve forgotten what it is really all about.
Stewardship is about maintenance and increase, not consumption.
But let’s go back to Psalm 24.
As I understand things ‘The Lord’, God, Allah, The Higher Power, Source or whatever name you wish to use IS the Universe and everything in it including all living things.
My interpretation of this verse is simply that ‘everything’ is (belongs to) the Universe.
The Universe consists of only two things – energy and space – and neither can exist without the other.
Everything that is ‘real’ is just energy combined and placed in space in a certain way and with a unique vibrational pattern.
Even two objects that appear to be identical are different, because they occupy a different area of space.
Now I don’t wish to go too deeply into the ‘everything is energy’ discussion as I’ve dealt with it before but here’s the thing.
You and I cannot ‘own’ energy and so neither can we own any ‘thing’ whether that be seen as matter, thought such as an idea, or ethereal concepts such as knowledge, money, time, culture, identity and so on.
Our role in all things on this planet, as individuated infinite universal beings inhabiting physical forms, is one of stewardship, not ownership.
But stewardship does not mean keeping everything ‘the same’.
That would be the mistake made by the servant in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25 14:30) who buried his share in the ground rather than investing it in something that would cause its value to grow.
Stewardship is about increase – as Mary Morrissey puts it ‘becoming a person of increase’.
Energy cannot be created or destroyed but it can be converted or changed.
We cannot ‘use up’ energy, what we do is change it from one form to another.
There is no such thing as an energy shortage or energy crisis unless that relates to the form the energy happens to be in or the space in which it happens to be placed.
We have become expert in moving energy about or changing it from one form into another but that doesn’t mean we ‘own’ it but rather part of what the stewardship of energy – everything – is about.
Where you and I go wrong however is what we do with the things we have created or obtained by some means of energetic transfer – by using money as an exchange facilitator for example.
A good example is a car.
A lot of effort was put into converting other forms of energy into the car. The whole ‘energy equation’ of how to create a car is massive. Think about it, starting with the minerals in the ground.
(It does of course start earlier than that from the ‘creation’ of the Universe)
But then what do we do with our cars?
For the vast majority of the time – nothing. We leave them ‘parked’ somewhere between the relatively short times we use then to travel from A to B.
Is this not ‘bad stewardship’?
When we are using our cars we are creating ‘increase’ – that which arises from taking us to our destination – would we be going there if it wasn’t to our advantage in some way?
But while they are idle there is no ‘increase’
The question that arises is “why do I need to ‘own’ a car?” “Why can’t I just use one when I need one and let someone else use it when I’m doing whatever it is at the destination it took me to?”
The same applies to pretty much everything else we own – most of the time the material things we ‘own’ are not in use.
There is some movement in this going on with car pools and jet pools and hot desking and so on but there is also the counter argument that if we stop ‘making things’ then people won’t have ‘jobs’ making them.
This three-dimensional thinking is counter to good stewardship and is rooted in the idea that we ‘own’ or need to own ‘stuff’ – the focus on ‘things’ rather than on energy.
Look at your own ‘estate’ – or in other words everything that you believe you ‘own’.
Are you using it to create increase?
In everything – matter, knowledge, understanding, ideas, culture, identity and so on. (Not ‘money’, money is just the facilitator for everything else)
Or are you the foolish servant in the parable who buried his talent and ended up having it taken away from him.
Because that is what will happen for you and I and for the world as a whole if we don’t abandon this notion of ownership and replace it with stewardship.
Are you a good steward – a person of increase?