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08.29.2014 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

How Stewardship Erases the Cycle of Fear

Fear of not having enough is the simplest definition for scarcity. I don’t know about you, but I can easily move into conversations of scarcity if I don’t have a clear handle on my own financial story.

McKnight and Block (2010) have helped me understand that part of the reason we so readily slip into mindsets of scarcity is because we live in a consumer world that is designed to make us believe that we need more and more just to keep up. Scarcity marketing, it seems is turning us into scarcity robots.

My work on The Emotion of Time and Money is designed to help each of us uncover our internal stories. The point is to know if these stories are holding you hostage or moving you into a life of abundance. One of the many things that I’m learning is there is some level of connection between spirituality, stewardship, and abundance of thought. It’s a lot to consider.

Before I dig that well any deeper, let’s begin with a preliminary conversation on what I mean by stewardship.

What the Heck is Stewardship Anyway?

Words like abundance, scarcity, and spirituality are monster concepts in and of themselves. Stewardship is a close relative holding its own multitude of connotations—all depending on who’s doing the talking. Makes me wonder why I’m not smart enough to write about normal concrete things like how fast paint dries.

Here’s a stab at offering some level of clarity.

Wikipedia defines stewardship as an ethic, a mindset, if you will, that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. Such resources include time, talent and possessions such as money and property.

The concept of stewardship can be applied to all aspects of life: the environment,economics,health,property, information, and even theology.

From a theological perspective, stewardship has more to do with our relationship with God and the kind of person He desires us to become. Words like responsibility and obedience are part of the quest for stewards. How can I become a person of character such that I love God and others more fully? Such that I create community?

When we take on responsibility for what we receive, how we utilize those resources, and how we ultimately share them with others, we begin to embrace abundant thought. It is the difference between what McKnight and Block (2010) refer to as consumerism versus citizenship.

The premise of stewardship is so important, in fact, that many of the ancient traditions have something to say about it in one form or another. Biblical Scripture, for example, speaks to the proper use of money no less than 2,350 times. The ancient Hindu Vedas address the flow of money—the wisdom in knowing when to hold it and when to let go.

I’m thinking a lot of Godly minds knew we needed these boundaries because, by our very nature, we are scarcity robots. No other living creature needs to do this level of work. You don’t see rabbits or squirrels scurrying for the latest Gucci bag. I suspect they gather only what they need, and it is enough.

When You Get Tired of the Fear . . .

This is really hard stuff because no matter how close we are to abundance, it only takes one negative moment to snap us back into a conversation of scarcity. There is hope, however, because unlike our furry neighbors, we can change our perspectives. We can break the cycle of scarcity. We can change our life.

Good stewardship is one way to do just that. When we engage in acts of stewardship, we naturally adopt more abundant perspectives that erase our fear of not having enough.

McCuddy and Pirie (2007) address the relationship between spirituality, stewardship, and financial decision-making stating the following key elements:

  • Stewardship is the responsibility of individual human beings
  • Stewardship involves sharing with others
  • Sharing with others also implies that something is left for oneself
  • Stewardship serves God
  • Stewardship benefits humankind

Check out the diagram below and decide which path sounds more purposeful. Abundance is not an easy path, but it’s worth the effort.

Dr. Spano describes the engagement in a perspective of abundance verses scarcity and the impact of stewardship on fear!

And, it’s vitally important because when we engage in a perspective of abundance, we create abundant communities (McKnight & Block, 2010). In doing so, we benefit ourselves, and we help to create a sustainable future for generations to come (McCuddy & Pirie, 2007).

Bottom line, then, is that stewardship and the outcome of abundance is important to your children, your grandchildren, their children, and on it goes. The alternative is we just gobble up one another with greed as a side dish.

Think about the possibility of a world where everyone operates from a mindset of stewardship and abundance. There would be no “the only way I win is if you lose.”Rather, we would all come from a sense of abundance such that we wisely use the resources we have, and together, we creatively solve our most challenging problems.

I’m on fire with the pure notion of this kind of rippling effect. Stayed tuned for my upcoming eBook on how to take your perspectives on time and money to the next level.

McCuddy, M.K. & Pirie, W. L. (2007). Spirituality, stewardship, and financial decision-making: Toward a theory of inter temporal stewardship. Managerial Finance, 33, 957-969.
McKnight, J., & Block, P. (2010). The abundant community: Awakening the power of families and neighborhoods  San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Dr. Sharon Spano discusses "The Abundant Community" by John McKnight

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. August 29, 2014