God is always giving — how do we say, ‘Thank you’?

Categories: From the Director

What should I give back to God? What’s the going price, do you suppose, for happiness? Or love? Or forgiveness?

A significant portion of my job is dedicated to stewardship. I have given stewardship talks, provided stewardship materials for parish committees, consulted with new or renewing stewardship committees and even hosted a “Stewardship Day.”

When I ask others what the word “stewardship” means to them, I often hear the three Ts — time, talent and treasure. I get all of that, but how do we discern the process, volume and frequency of meting out our treasure, talent and time?

prayer_manYears ago when I was working for an hourly wage, I learned that there is a specific reward for a specific amount of time and talent (or, in my case, time and grunt labor). I had co-workers in those days who watched the clock to the second, making sure no one would steal a portion of their 15-minute coffee break or 30-minute lunch. I fell in with the folks who were a bit more laid back than that; but in truth, I learned that time was a huge factor.

Talent is even more difficult to figure out. Everyone is good at something, but no one is good at everything. Who do we tap on the shoulder to teach a faith formation class? Or lead a Bible study? Why do we go to them?

What do we consider a fair share of our treasure? After all, we work hard to earn it. I guess the Bible says to tithe 10 percent, but does it have to be that much? Should we sweat all week just to give money away on Sunday? God must know how important it is to have an evening out once in a while or to drive a newer car.

My story

OK. So in 1952, God plants me in a loving family. Not wealthy by the world’s standards, but caring. I learn by the age of 3 that the oldest brother could use a tune-up, but he turns out OK. (The youngest brother comes to the same conclusion years later, with the middle brother in mind.) The mom is a great cook. (Thank you, God.)

God endows me with modest talents and abilities, allowing me to experience much more in this life than just eating, sleeping and working.

God orchestrates a meeting between me and a young lady who will become the love of my life. Our sacramental marriage is imperfect because we’re human, but still our friendship and love for one another thrive as our marriage approaches 38 years.

God blesses my wife and me with four sons, which I will admit hasn’t always been a cakewalk either; however, the difficulties we’ve experienced in raising a family have brought us closer to Jesus, the cross, each other and our Catholic faith.

God surrounds us with friends that love us. We love them back.

In his mercy, Jesus forgives our transgressions, bad behavior, poor choices and apathy. All we had to do was ask.

God sends us a handful of grandkids to make sure we have something to be joyful about as our joints deteriorate, our memories fade and our physical strength somehow disappears.

Dear readers, please help me answer this question: What should I give back to God? What’s the going price, do you suppose, for happiness? Or love? Or forgiveness? Fifteen or 20 bucks in the usher’s basket? I want to be fair. Maybe an hour or two working for the church. But I’m pretty busy. I don’t want to shortchange God on this; I truly don’t. But, hey, I can’t give it out like candy either.

I read once that I should give it all to God — my whole being, all that I am and will ever be. Could that be right?

Good stewards, as I write this, Holy Week is approaching. We’ll have an opportunity to ponder another gift God gave us, through the mercy of his only Son: freedom.

How will we say “thank you?”