I hope by now in this series, you have gained a richer, fuller, and deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian steward. Namely, that stewardship is about a way of living, about tending to and caring for the things God loves. But I’m betting some of you are wondering how we’ve made it to part five of this series without mentioned money. Well, here it comes!
Give and receive and deprive yourself, because in Hades there is nowhere to seek luxury. Wisdom of Sirach 14:16 (LXX)
Look, money is part of stewardship for the same reasons that the other things we have mentioned are. Money is meant to be used for the caring of God’s creation in preparation for His return. We are already stewards of our money at some level when we spend it on (reasonable amounts of) food to nourish our bodies or when we treat our friends to ice cream just because they’re awesome and we love them. And just like we can be bad stewards of our bodies by mistreating them, or bad stewards of our time by wasting it away on nonsense, we can be bad stewards of our money when our financial priorities aren’t related to the King’s spiritual priorities.
We come from a rich tradition of money and goods being pooled for a common good or given liberally by those with great means, from a tradition that stresses simplicity as a way of life and self-deprivation as an expression of love. We really have no excuses to feel uncomfortable when the Church asks us to use a portion of our means to support her ministries. They are Christ’s ministries, for which we—as His stewards—are responsible. They are the ministries that keep us alive when everything around us is falling apart, and they do the same for millions of other people around the world. And I mean all of the Church’s ministries, from the most blatant and obvious responsibilities like caring for the poor, the sick, and the hungry to the beautiful responsibilities of building new churches, painting new icons, and providing vestments for new priests down to the most mundane responsibilities like making sure the lights are on in the parish hall, there are enough stamps in the church office to send out newsletters, and the cleaning staff gets paid a living wage.
Now, maybe you’re thinking, “But I’m a poor college student. I make it by on student loans and ramen noodles. Are you seriously asking me to give money to anything right now? Maybe when I graduate.”
Ok, fair point. I know that when I was in college, I certainly wasn’t swimming in cash and dining in extravagance—honestly, I’m still about a million dollars away—but I also think that now is always the right time to build the habits you want to have for your whole life, even if it’s on a small scale for the moment. As Sirach tells us, now is the time to give because we don’t know what tomorrow holds. You are a steward today, so I think, my friends, today is the day to make a commitment to be a steward of whatever means we have.
Here’s a list of some college-friendly giving suggestions:
- Give from Your Chapter Budget: Does your OCF chapter have a yearly budget? Consider donating a portion of your chapter budget to OCF as a way to support the Orthodox Christian campus ministry movement.
- Keep a “Thank You” Stash: We all have really amazing days when we can experience God acting in our lives. Perhaps on those days, you can set aside whatever is in your wallet to offer up as a thank you to the Lord. Alternatively, you could add to the stash on the days when everything goes wrong as an offering of repentance and a show of dedication to God no matter the circumstances.
- Fill a Coin Jar: Nobody likes loose change in their pockets. Keep a coin jar in your room and drop your change in as you collect it throughout the week. When the jar is full, take them to a coin changer, and give the balance to the Church! You’d be surprised how much one pickle jar can hold.
- Make a Fasting Plan: There are four major fasting periods in the Orthodox calendar (not to mention the weekly fasts). Make a plan for setting aside a little extra money on fasting days by eating simply and eating less.
These are just a few ideas. Be creative. Be pro-active. Be generous. Whatever you do, give with love and joy and thanksgiving, knowing that God has entrusted you with the care of His Bride.
This week’s challenge: Give—even if it’s only $10—to the Church and Her ministries. To make OCF part of your stewardship plan, go to ocf.net/give!