By Glenn Taibl
We were talking about Stewardship and Tom O’Brien suggested it was time to replace the classic three “T’s” of Time, Talent and Treasure with categories that would be more helpful in growing stewards. His suggestion was that we would be better served by three new “Stewardship T’s” of Thanksgiving, Trust and Transformation. I have revisited the conversation with Tom many times and I believe we are well served by interpreting Time, Talent and Treasure through the lens of Thanksgiving, Trust and Transformation.
Thanksgiving for Time, Talent and Treasure begins with the acknowledgement that all three are God’s gift and are not ours to possess. Thanksgiving begins with the notion that God is the subject of the active verbs and we are not. Thanksgiving invites us to take a good look at the time that has been given to us as we search for ways to use time wisely because it is such a precious, God-given gift. Thanksgiving changes the way we do the offering on Sunday as we offer up the time we’ve spent with our children and grandchildren or the talents we have used in pursuing the gifts of vocation. Thanksgiving can’t wait to tell God what we’ve done with the treasure we have received and thanksgiving invites us to offer it all back to God as gift with a clear understanding of where it came from and what, in God’s name, it is intended to do.
Trust is another rich faith-word that defines biblical stewardship. God has given time, talent and treasure as a Trust which we manage with Jesus Christ at the center. The Trust is something that God gives to us again and again and again. It involves all the material we will need to create community; to heal what is broken and to bring hope where there is despair. We affirm, in faith, that God’s promises are true and we can trust them. Trust may even change the way we receive the offering on Sunday. We can say, “Thank you for trusting us with these gifts of time, talent and treasure and we offer ourselves to you, O Lord, because your trust has given us eternal confidence to live in this world you so love.”
Transformation is something that doesn’t happen accidentally but because in Thanksgiving we have trusted God with our lives and it has changed everything. God has transformed the way we look at time, every precious day, and the way we look at the gifts we have received as talents with the affirmation that no one has been short-changed. Our relationship to our treasure is transformed because we now see it through God’s eyes. Transformation will change the way we do the offering on Sunday. We may honestly believe and trust as true the words of Paul in Romans 12: “Do not be conformed to the world but rather transformed by the renewing of your minds that you may know what it is good and acceptable and perfect.” Thanksgiving, Trust and Transformation are three good words for Stewardship.
Reprinted with permission of Glen Taibl, Luther Seminary: http://www.luthersem.edu/stewardship/