Do you want to make a real difference in stewardship in your congregation? You want to see growth, engagement, improved finances? Well, the most potent place to start is with yourself.
A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to participate in the Mountain Desert District Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, as the keynote speaker. That is an energized group of UUs! I considered everyone attending to be a leader; in their community, of their congregation, and of the district. As a certified leadership coach, I know that leaders make the most difference through our own learning and practice. That way, we can “go deep” in a subject, model an example that others notice, and we can authentically invite them to join us.
I challenged the Mountain Desert group in two ways, first to deepen their own stewardship of their home congregation. And second to reorient their viewpoint, so as to understand the needs of non-leaders, which is most of the congregation. This is a tricky combination of embracing the leadership role more intentionally, while suspending one’s “insider knowledge” to be more welcoming.
I was not telling these people that they were cheapskates, or un-generous. Honestly I don’t believe that to be true. Yet, I know from my own experience that an understanding and practice of financial generosity can be developed over many years, perhaps a lifetime. I have been thinking, writing, and talking about it for decades; I still find it challenging. And in fact, that exploration of the topic is what supports my intelligence as a stewardship consultant.
During the presentation, I told a story about myself, to illustrate how much we need to have humility in our leadership. It is the story from my book, The Generosity Path, about wearing a green string on my wrist to remind me to be generous in giving and receiving. I was thrilled that so many people in the Mountain Desert District joined me by donning green string themselves. This might be useful to spread in your own congregation. Join us!
When you invest your time and intelligence in learning about and practicing stewardship in your own congregation, your thinking and approach will change. You will expand your understanding of your role in the congregation, and will be able to talk about it in ways that will guide and inspire others.
Here is the presentation slideshow from the keynote: From Generosity to Stewardship.