I have had some outstanding teachers in my life, but none compare to my Mom. She didn’t teach me from lessons plans or a curriculum in a formal classroom. Rather it was in our home where she advised me, corrected me, and warned me where I learned my most valuable lessons. Most of all, it was from the way she lived.
One of those impressionable lessons was in the area of stewardship. Typically when we hear that term we automatically associate it with giving. However, that is the result of stewardship. Mom was a good giver because she was a good steward, and she taught it to me from the time I was a child.
The word “steward” in the Bible was a manager. He didn’t own any possessions, but represented the owner in caring for his property. The test of a good steward was faithfulness to care for the master’s possessions (I Corinthians 4:2).
I saw stewardship in the way Mom faithfully gave to the Lord for all of my life. She didn’t give from a sense of coercion or with a bad attitude. It was simply a reflection of her awareness that she was a steward with all that the Lord had entrusted her. Mom is almost 75 years old and still practices giving of tithes and offerings to the Lord.
As a teenager when I began to work some and earn income it was easy to do the same as I had seen Mom and Dad give joyfully. Since Paula and I have been married it has never been a question whether or not we were going to give to the Lord. Of course, we learned that from the Bible, but I also saw it in my parent’s lives and it made it easy for me to do the same.
I saw stewardship in the way Mom cared for her possessions. She took good care of her clothes and wore them as long as she could. She still does to this day. None of us ever went out unless our clothes were ironed and usually starched.
She taught me to iron my clothes and it became second-nature as a teenager to take care of what I had. To be truthful, we didn’t have a lot of clothes (our closets were tiny and held everything we had in them), but we were neat and clean and she made sure things matched.
When I was in the eighth grade Mom took me to Bud’s Men’s Wear to buy my first suit. It made me feel grown up that I was going to be able to wear a suit to church. I remember how we spent almost two hours looking and having me try different things on for her.
We bought a suit (I’m sure I deferred to her choice and taste) and I was so proud! I still remember the special hanger that came with it. The next Sunday I wore it and then we came home from church for lunch. I was still at the table finishing up the meal when she came and sternly said, “Come here, I want to show you something”.
I knew I was in trouble and so I meekly followed her to the bedroom Hoss and I shared. She entered the room and stopped and I came and stood beside her still wondering what was wrong.
She pointed to my new rumpled suit lying on the floor and I still didn’t get it. I’m sure she saw the stupid look on my face and said, “Rick, I spent a lot of money for that suit and I don’t want you to ever put it on the floor again. Always hang it back up after you are finished wearing it”.
Immediately I got the point and apologized to her. She was right. I hadn’t paid a dime for it and she had sacrificed for me to have something nice. I never did it again. It was a lesson for me that I needed to learn. A lesson of stewardship.
I saw stewardship (remember, it means “to manage”) in the way she cared for her children. The Bible states that “… a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame”. (Proverbs 29:15) Tragically, a child that has been “left to himself” has a parent that does not see their role of steward.
Parenting is an awesome responsibility. A passive steward is unfaithful in his responsibility. Likewise, a passive parent is unfaithful in their responsibility to their sons and daughters.
I could select a number of areas in which to focus on her stewardship as a parent, but I am limited by space so I’ll just mention one. Mom was very intentional in training us as to how to relate to adults.
We dared not respond with an “uh huh” or a “yeah” or “no” in responding to those older than us. It was expected that we would say, “Yes, ma’am…no ma’am…yes sir…no sir”, depending on the proper response, of course. I’m 54 years old and I still say “Yes ma’am” to ladies younger than me. It was drilled into me – and I’m glad it was.
All of us, mostly subconsciously, parent our children (both positively and negatively) in response to the way we were parented, either proactively or reactively To be truthful, I’m not sure that Mom ever saw herself as a steward in her parenting, but she was faithful to her task.
Having children is both a great blessing and a great responsibility. The Bible says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Psalm 127:3)
I am ever grateful my dear Mom saw her children as gifts from the Lord. She stewarded us to the best of her ability and it made an impact on our lives. My heart’s desire is that one day my own children will be able to say the same of Paula and me. If they do, I learned it from my Mom. I hope they can learn some of it from me to pass on to their children.