One of the most pervasive ideas we hear at church when we talk about stewardship is
the concept of the three T’s—Time, Talent, and Treasure.The reality is that money
—“Treasure”— is usually what interests most churches. Money is required to maintain
our churches and our diocese, and when there is not enough of it, we are limited in
what we might accomplish. So we need members of our congregations to support the
church financially, to keep the lights on and to provide a stipend to the priest-in-charge
or supply clergy who serve the church. Each congregation is also expected to pay its
fair share to the diocese.
But what about the other two T’s? The one I’m focusing on today is the stewardship of
Time. The concept of time encompasses several aspects of stewardship. Time is also
the area that is most neglected when it comes to conversations about stewardship.
My first grandchild, Isabelle Marie, arrived on January 2nd and has made me aware
that whatever time I have left on this earth, being part of her life is important. This led
me to change course from the work I had been doing. In addition to being a priest for
the past 10 years, I worked for more than 32 years for Orchard Supply Hardware. But
when my son and daughter-in-law asked me to be Isabelle’s caregiver when her mom
returned to work, I said yes. So, on June 1st I retired from Orchard and I’m now with my
granddaughter each morning, Monday through Friday.
As much as I would like to be present at Isabelle’s major life events—graduation from
high school and college, her marriage, the birth of her children—time is not on my side,
although I hope to live to be 100! It’s important to me that I make a difference to her
now, when she is little, and pray that I’m around to see her grow to womanhood.
Each of us is created in God’s image, and God wants us to be the best “us” we can
possibly be. God wants us to make a difference in the world. We are to be stewards of
God’s creation and that includes God’s Church. To do that, we take our baptismal vows
seriously, in gratitude to God for the precious gift he has given us—our very lives. We
do our best to give back to our community and our church a portion of the inestimable
blessings we have received. Our churches exist because people do just that; they
pledge their support each year and give of their own treasure to do that.
Many people find, however, that they are not in a position to give much because they
are not able to afford to. But in many cases, those same people have an abundance of
time. Encouraging church members to give something back to God through service to
others is a meaningful way to involve those who might feel inadequate because they
can’t write a check each month.
At St. Francis, we make it clear that we take all the three T’s seriously, with time and
talent being appreciated as much as treasure. One of the recent projects we have
embraced is going through office space, cleaning closets, organizing, and culling out
paperwork that spans decades. A group of volunteers is making this happen, just as a
small group serves a monthly dinner at Turlock Gospel Mission, and members attend
community meetings that are focusing on alleviating homelessness. These are
examples of ways to contribute to the church and community. There is always
something to do; even those who are housebound can contribute their time by praying
for others or sending a card.
One of the benefits of going through old boxes and filing cabinets is that you find
historically important things. Has your church made an effort to organize old
photographs, vestry minutes, or other important documents? If not, that is an area in
which people who are willing to give of their time can be invaluable. Looking back on
the history of your church, recognizing those who founded it, and finding ways to share
that information with your congregation can stimulate great discussions. This is
especially important for churches that have spent time exiled from their original
When we’re talking about the stewardship of time, it is mind-boggling to realize the
thousands of hours people have put in for the ministries of our respective churches.
Many of these people have long since entered into eternal rest, but remembering and
honoring them is another way we can practice the stewardship of time.
Here are some questions to ask yourself, or to use for general discussion at church:
- Do I spend any time during the week (other than on Sundays) doing something that
can make a difference in my community and/or my church?
- Do most people at my church feel free to volunteer for ministry, or are there
“gatekeepers” who put limits on what people might do? How might that change?
- If I find that I have time to share, where should I begin? (Hint: pray about it.