Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stewards in an Unexpected Place: A Personal Story

I find tremendous examples of stewardship in all kinds of places. Recently, I encountered great stewards on a somewhat remote beach on a rainy Saturday morning. Here’s the story.

I recently presented at a conference for North American stewardship leaders. On the morning of our departure my daughter and I decided to visit Tigertail Beach, a somewhat remote beach to look for seashells.

Upon our arrival, more people were at the beach than we anticipated. There was a local scheduled clean-up event that morning and we were stopped at a registration area to sign up. I told the three local women seated behind the registration table that we would be on the lookout for debris, but we came mainly as tourists.

As we wandered the beach, our eyes gazed through the shallow waters, the squishy sand, and the mangrove edges searching primarily for shells and then for trash. We did find some shells, but we found various items of trash including a fabulous pair of jeweled sandals which captured our attention and imagination. How were these sandals lost? Who was wearing them? Where were they lost? Oh, the imaginative stories that a dad and his daughter can create! Beside the stories, we talked about environmental stewardship – caring for God’s creation. This was a hands-on teaching moment that parents too often miss but I took full advantage of.

As we walked back, I thought about these women. I knew that we would see them again. I could now walk by them with my guilt relieved. Yes, I was feeling slightly guilty for telling them earlier that we were just there to take from the beach as tourists, instead of give back. After spotting those sandals, we became more than tourists. We helped clean up the beach. We were . . . well, stewards. I could tell the women that we had done our part.

It was just a last minute decision to go on a short excursion to a beach tucked at the end of a dead end street. Yet, it’s one of the most memorable experiences from attending a professional conference on fund development and stewardship!

Granted, the lists to the right certainly are not exhaustive for creating stewards, especially in a faith-based context. However, these stewardship lessons will serve most of our faith communities very well. I am reminded, and hopefully you are, too, of the important opportunities that we have to ask boldly for financial gifts and to embrace a life of generosity, hope, and passion.

God is Still in Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Producer
United Methodist Communications

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