It is the steward’s gift to give to others after us.
To be a steward is to know in our bones that what we are responsible for was given to us with intent, and that this gift will be given to others after us. We live in a world where possessions are an individual’s property, and are treated as consumables rather than assets from which other creations might be made. We need tangible and poignant living illustrations in order to be net-less followers of Jesus who live in this world but are not of it. In recent days, members of my family had opportunity to see it up close once more, resulting in the following letter I wrote to my daughter, Autumn.
Dear beloved daughter–
Your grandpa and grandma moved into this house on the day you were born. Now, nearly 30 years to the day of your birth, you move in.
This house is a home, a sanctuary, a place of reunion, laughter, prayer, healing and love.
Your grandparents made it so.
Our family lived here a summer when you were four and your parents were jobless, homeless and prospects were slim. The shelter your grandparents offered all four of us bought us time to remind ourselves who we were, and Whose we were.
Your uncle and cousins lived here for a season when marital and financial ruin exploded in their lives.
Your aunt experienced this home as a place of transformation and healing in the middle of considerable pain.
Your great-grandma Goose, so much loved by all of us, lived here for her last months, surrounded by love and care, especially when she could no longer care for us.
Your mom and uncle practically lived here for nine months a few years ago, overseeing major remodeling for a home well-worn from such loving use. It was a well-deserved tribute to the home your grandparents created. It made for a new era of habitation.
A few years ago, your mother and I moved here and assumed ownership of this sanctified place. It brought us nearer to your grandparents for their later years, helping with care for the place, sharing in meals and hospitality for the family.
Your brother’s family ended up spending a summer here, just as when he was a child, working out where they would work and live. When they bought a home nearby, his in-laws joined us all in this home while they remodeled their new place and made it habitable. This home was crowded and noisy with four generations living here, but love grew. This is how we understand family. This is how we live into the strength and benefits of sharing resources.
Truthfully, there was a more compelling reason for us to share a home with your grandparents. Your mother was dying. It was the right place to bring her for her final years, in the middle of the family that supported us throughout the long season of her unrelenting disease. This home became the place of her hospice, where we all said our good-byes, and where so many came from so many places to pay their respects to the person she was.
Life and death, preparations for weddings and memorial services, family gatherings, so much game playing, abundant food, a place where so many of us have prayed and fellow-shipped and loved. This is a home free of ghosts and filled with tender mercies.
Now, you and Alex make it your home. You will have opportunity to gather yourselves for the years of life in front of you. For your season, you become stewards of this place that provided so well for multiple generations of our family. You will be privileged to interact with and enjoy your grandparents in a way all too few families experience. We will have a new abundance of time together, a treasure, when so many others mourn over their children moving home. I can’t wait!
Forgive my pride for the deep belief that our family has done it well–when times were hard, and when there was ease. Please understand my unyielding conviction that this is a holy and preferred way to live. Please hear my thankfulness to God for this place you will now enjoy, and that it is here for you.
May you be blessed inside and outside the walls of this home. May you enjoy opportunity to show love in this place even as it has been shown to you. May your marriage grow stronger and your friendships deepen. May this dwelling be a place where you grow in wisdom, abound in possibility, and increase your capacity to be generous.
What might you write to your children?
To your successors?
To generations not yet born?
What will be your gift?
Mark L. Vincent, PhD, CCNL, is the CEO of Design Group International. He serves as a CLA Leader2Leader facilitator and is actively involved as a subject matter expert and faculty for the CLA Outcomes Academy Online. The 4th edition of his book A Christian View of Money was released earlier this year.
Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) offers all nonprofit leaders the opportunity to enroll in its Credentialed Christian Nonprofit Leader (CCNL) program. In the Summer Session of the Outcomes Academy Online, the first required module for the CCNL program is being offered, CCNL-1 Leadership. There is no better time to get started on your credential than this summer. The registration deadline is June 12, 2017.