This article is by Leisa Anslinger, the 2022 recipient of ICSC’s Christian Stewardship Award.
I have been greatly influenced by the wisdom of Bishop Sylvester Ryan, bishop emeritus of Monterey, California, who often reminds us that stewardship and evangelization are two sides of the same coin. That coin is discipleship. Forming people who are aware of their call to grow as disciples is a dynamic and life-giving process. It can also be challenging, as is the call itself. Jesus’ way is one that places demands upon us, and yet, as the United States bishops’ pastoral letter on stewardship notes, it is also a way of joy and a life filled with meaning. Let us briefly explore these three interrelated calls:
Discipleship: While we are drawn into Christ’s Body through the waters of baptism, many of us grow into a living relationship with Christ over many years. Once that relationship has been ignited, or re-ignited, people’s lives are shaped by their faith and desire to grow in love of God and all that we believe as Christians. This process of ongoing conversion takes place within the community of faith. As leaders, we have the opportunity to create an environment in which those who are already on the journey of discipleship recognize their call to reach out to others, building bridges to living faith.
Stewardship: We are Christian stewards because we are followers of Jesus Christ. As the bishops’ pastoral indicates clearly, “Stewardship is an expression of discipleship with the power to change how we understand and live out our lives.” Through our lives as stewards, we embrace Christ’s self-giving, sacrificial way of life.
Evangelization: When we are in love, we cannot help but share that love with others. That is the essence of evangelization. We share the love of God as good stewards of our faith, and our sharing has the potential to draw others into a new or deeper relationship with God in Jesus Christ, as disciples and stewards. Keeping this interrelationship in mind as we develop stewardship processes and initiatives helps us lead the people we serve to a joy-filled, meaningful way of life.