When the King James translators were translating the Bible into English, they chose to translate the Greek word oikonomos as steward for a good reason. Stigweard or steward is an English word about eight hundred years old. Originally it meant “ward of the sty,” a sty being an enclosure where animals were kept, mostly pigs. By the time Shakespeare was writing plays in England and King James authorized the translation of the scripture into English, the spelling of stigweard had taken its present form, steward, and “ward of the sty” had become “ward of the house,” so that, literally, the word steward meant “ward of the house.”
The Greek word oikonomos, broken down, means much the same thing. Oiko comes from the Greek word oikos which means house, and nomos means law, so “law of the house” is basically the meaning.
In the Bible, steward means manager. Consequently, biblically, stewardship implies management. In the Old Testament, we find such a steward-manager in the person of Joseph, who was called to the palace of the Pharaoh of Egypt and told, “You shall have charge over my house, and all my people shall be governed according to your word… See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:40-41) Pharaoh gave Joseph his ring of authority and Joseph was to answer to the Pharaoh only.
In the New Testament, the Christian steward is without a doubt a manager (Luke 12_42-48). When we become Christians, we become God’s representatives, and we need to become aware of the fact that we are managers of God’s world. We are responsible to Him for taking care of that part of the environment that we are exposed to in this life as a part of our Christian stewardship. We are responsible for the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food that God entrusts to us in this lifetime. Indeed, the list is much longer, including:
- And more …
A Christian practices biblical stewardship by
(1) acknowledging—in mind and heart—that God owns everything and then acting accordingly;
(2) learning and implementing God’s principles in managing the money and material things that God has entrusted to him or her;
(3) utilizing these resources in accordance with God’s will, not one’s own will.
As a parish, we have a duty as stewards of God’s creation, particularly in sharing our own time, financial resources, and personal talents in his service.
Many links to resources in aid of parish stewardship caj be found here.