In a recent Leading Saints podcast with host, Kurt Francom, and guest, Ganel-Lyn Condie, I discovered an interesting and inspired view of our earthly responsibilities. Not only did I realize that some of our personal challenges may, in fact, be a gift of stewardship. I was also reminded that stewardship invites humble interactions with ourselves and others while ownership invites pride and a desire to take away the agency of others.
In this podcast, Ganel-Lyn shares the importance of understanding how we view our challenges plus the difference between stewardship and ownership. So, let’s dive into a deeper understanding of what that looks like.
The Parable of the Stewardships
It is easy to read and study the parable of the talents where one servant buried their one talent, and the other servants magnified their talents. But what if we replace “talent” with challenge. What if that challenge is now viewed as a stewardship that we need to magnify, wrestle with, learn from and have heart-changing experiences with?
Did your mind just blow up? When I first heard this from Ganel-Lyn, mine sure did. Then, as I pondered on this concept, a soul expanding understanding began.
As Ganel-Lyn so aptly explained,
“Maybe the servant that received the one talent received a stewardship that was embarrassing or hard. It’s everything you own. It’s your health. It’s your dog. It’s your unemployment. It’s your divorce. It’s your kids. It’s your infertility. It’s your LGBTQ plus friend. It’s your demotion or your promotion. It’s everything in our lives. So, as I comb through the scriptures and ask the Lord to kind of show me where He had taught it, that’s where I saw that maybe the servant had received a “stewardship”, but it wasn’t a fun one. It’s not the one that everyone’s giving an award for or cheering you on about. It’s the one that feels private or personal or frustrating.“
What if we evolved our view of stewardship from just our responsibility as primary teacher, elders quorum president, PTA president or CEO, to connecting our heart and soul to those previously mentioned and other “talents or challenges” that provide us the opportunity to consecrate our efforts for good?
On the reverse side we find ownership. The easiest way to understand the difference between experiencing our life from a stewardship capacity versus an ownership capacity is how we sometimes view ourselves as parents.
We strive to love, teach, and guide our children to be kind, contributing individuals with the hope that they will grow up to be kind and contributing adults. Yet sometimes we may get caught up in tying our “worth” to their choices and activities. If our child is a straight A student, we’re a good parent. If they bring home an F, we wonder what we did wrong. The same thoughts may occur with all of their perceived successes and failures. Yet, in reality, we can do our best to love, guide, nurture, teach and encourage our child and they will inevitably make some choices that may be inconsistent with our hopes, wishes and expectations. That’s called free agency and learning from their natural consequences. They have no, I repeat no, reflection on if we were a “good” or “bad” parent, it just reflects a use of their agency.
Yet, if we start to “own” those things, we can interact with our children in a way that is not in line with being a guiding, unconditionally loving steward.
That same “owning” effect can occur in our work, church callings and other life interactions. When that owning occurs, it stimies quality interactions, collaboration and limits our ability to fully solve, resolve and grow through challenges.
Ganel-Lyn gave some helpful examples of what “ownership” may look like in our personal and church responsibilities.
“An example of the voice of ownership in parenting sounds a lot like, oh my gosh, I must have failed because look at the choices you just made. The voice of ownership for a bishop will be look at the numbers of not ministering happening or how low our tithing is or the numbers.”
Do any of these sound familiar? Now, to be certain, there are many tools we can use to strive to understand our effectiveness in our callings. However, they should be used to help us improve ways we steward to help our flock grow and progress. They are not an end unto themselves.
A Different View
As we begin to consider what our “stewardships” may be, how we view, deal with, and grow through our challenges, we can evolve into a whole new mindset on how to be a good steward. Additionally, we can discover that some of our stewardships may have been previously viewed as “ownerships” and we now have the opportunity to make some insightful adjustments.
If we go back to the parable of the talents, we remember that one servant buries their talent while the others magnified their talents. Ganel-Lyn expands upon insights shared in her new book, “The Stewardship Principle – Reframing Your Life”:
“The master comes back and is like, hey, what have you done with your stewardships? And we know this parable because the other servants have taken it and it’s been consecrated. It’s expanded. And so, the premise I start with in the book is, even if your stewardship is that one thing that no one’s excited about. That’s the hard stuff. Right. What have you done with God in caring for it? Because I believe He can consecrate every stewardship for our good.”
With this new understanding comes new opportunities to grow through our perceived challenges. We now have the opportunity to embrace challenges and hardships as a stewardship. Thus, all things are for our gain and help us become our best self. As we lean into this understanding, we truly will be able to fulfill the measure of our creation as covenant women and men, children of loving eternal parents, and trusted stewards now and into the eternities.
Beth Young is a convert of 44 years; served a mission in North Carolina; has been married for 35 years to her sweetheart, Bob; has five adult children and two grandchildren. She raised her family in Texas for 25 years where she served in various capacities in church and in her community. She moved to Utah four years ago and loves writing, teaching, and inspiring others to make changes to their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Beth is the owner of 5 Pillars of Health, is a certified Tai Chi Instructor, serves as the written content manager at Leading Saints, and is a master gardener.