Sunday, December 7, 2008

When we hear the word “stewardship”, our first inclination may be to run for the hills. For many of us, it calls to mind the annual sermon on tithing. Several pastors weave in the importance of being good stewards of our time, gifts and talents, as well as our money. This is a positive and balanced way to look at stewardship, but I’d like to take it another step.

I view myself as the steward of my life; not necessarily the owner. In fact, the Apostle Paul reminds us: “You are not your own.” This may sound like nonsense to some, but to me it makes perfect sense. If we are simply the stewards of our lives, we see our lives as a gift. With that mindset, we should live for bigger purposes than ourselves, be other-centered, seek to live sacrificially, and be more motivated to make each day count. “Sacrificial” may also sound like nonsense; it sounds painful. But I think sacrifice is the secret to joy.

I digress, but I guess I can do that in my own blog. Back to stewardship.

So, how does stewardship relate to parenting, and more specifically, to being adoptive parents ? I see my wife and me in a stewardship role with respect to our three kids, who are now 21, 17 and 15. We have been given a gift; three gifts, in fact, and with these gifts, a responsibility to prepare them for life, hopefully from a balanced blend of love and discipline. We play this stewardship role for about 18 years and then our kids are unleashed to the world. By God’s grace, our mistakes are covered and our kids confidently transition to independence and to the opportunity to reach their full potential. We transition as well – from parents and stewards to counselors and friends.

Is it different with adopted kids and biological kids ? We have two adopted and one biological, so I do have a perspective. Yes and no. There’s no difference in terms of seeing each one of our three kids as gifts, as unique and equal gifts. However, two were handed to us in a very sudden fashion as nicely wrapped bundles versus the nine-month wait to deliver a baby who was pretty discolored and messy looking in the first few minutes of his life. (No offense, Sam.) Simply from the first visual and physical contact, the way a baby or older child enters one’s family via adoption may make it easier to embrace the notion of him or her as a gift. And if that’s the case, it may in turn be more comfortable to view your parental role as one of stewardship.

I encourage all of us to apply the concept of stewardship more broadly. Among other benefits, it frees us up to be responsible for the process, but puts the results in the hands of the one who gave us these gifts in the first place.

1 comment:

kim.clarke@gladney said...

my favorite on this topic:

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.