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Bisbees Conservation Journal Q2 2015

BISBEE’S CONSERVATION JOURNAL Q2 • 2015 61 When I set out to understand my role in this confusing world, the best guidelines I found came from the teachings of Jesus. In several of his bestknown parables, Jesus chose an unlikely person to be a role model for us: a steward. The Greek word translated “steward” is oikonomos, from oikos (which means “house”) and nomos (which means “manager”). Therefore, a steward is the manager of a household. From the word oikonomos we get our English word “economy,” which means “the wise management of resources.” The more I learned about stewards, the happier I was to try to become one. Here are some lessons about stewards I gleaned from Jesus’ teaching in Luke 19:11-27: A steward is not an owner; he/she manages the owner’s resources. It was important for me to learn that I am not the center of the universe, nor do I really “own” any of it. There is a Center, and a person is wise to align his life with that Center. The Center, the Creator, is really the owner of everything; I’m just the maintenance person. The owner expects a return on his investment. It’s not enough just to preserve what has been given to us; we need to leave it better off than when we received it. The foolish steward in the parable buried his resources in fear of losing them. The wise ones invested their assets and gained more. I want to be a conservationist, not a preservationist. Sooner or later, the steward has to give an account of his/her stewardship. The prosperity of our nation owes a great deal to the belief of our forefathers that they would give an account to God about how well they took care of this earth. To the degree we maintain that ideal, so will we continue to prosper. I, too, must give an account. The key to good stewardship is faithfulness. I have been entrusted with a certain set of resources unique to me: time, energy, upbringing, talents, children, education, words, a heritage, and “stuff.” I may not be the most clever fellow nor the most gifted, but by golly I can be faithful. The greatest commendation I can receive in this life is to hear those words: “Well done, you good and faithful servant (steward).” The reward for faithful handling of responsibility is more responsibility. Contrary to the values of our current culture, the payoff for doing a good job is not self-indulgent leisure. The reward is more responsibility. If a person values responsibility, then that is a lofty goal. If one believes responsibility is a burden, then stewardship is a curse. I prefer to have more important things to manage, not less. The failure to be a good steward has serious consequences. Squandering the resources which have been entrusted to us incurs some heavy penalties. If I don’t take care of this physical body the Lord has given me, I’ll get sick and die an early death. If I don’t maintain my house properly, I’ll end up paying dearly to get it repaired. If I fail to give my kids the nurture and discipline they need, both they and I will suffer later. And if I neglect the cultivation of my spiritual life, it may cost me more than my life. It’s a lot wiser to pay the cost of stewardship now than to pay the price of regret later. One of the sacred trusts which has been entrusted to us is this physical earth. We are stewards of it. Our earliest ancestors were assigned by the Creator to care for the world he had made and every living creature in it. In this vast universe, the only environment which sustains life (as far as we know) is the thin crust of this tiny planet. The soil, the water, the air, the wildlife (both animal and vegetable), the domestic livestock, and the cultivated crops are ours not only to protect, but to enhance, improve, and make better. All the principles of stewardship apply to our caring for this created world. We are not the ultimate “owners” of the patch of soil we currently occupy. We have been granted this property as a sacred trust. We dare not misuse “our” land in ways which will diminish its productivity. At present, we are enjoying the bounty of the earth: fishing its steams, hunting its forests and savannahs, and reaping abundant harvests from its fertile fields. When we depart this earth, we must leave the land even richer than we found it. May God’s benediction rest on our efforts: “Well done, faithful steward!” D. Michael Henderson is executive director of Heart of Africa, a mission which supports African indigenous initiatives. by Dr. Michael Henderson


Bisbees Conservation Journal Q2 2015
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