Grace and the Gift of Self
THE GIFT OF SELF
The gift of self is a combination gift of our time and our abilities, to God, our neighbors and our community.
THE GIFT OF TIME
The second element of sacrificial giving means being responsible to budget a certain amount to give back to the lord, taking care to account for family needs and obligations, and taking into consideration the family’s resources and personal circumstances. How much should we give? There is no magic number. But we can start with an assessment of our level of giving now. Is the proportion of our income that we give back to God the first portion? And does that portion adequately reflect our gratitude for God’s generosity?
Some people use the biblical tithe of the first 10% of their income as a guideline. Many Christian thinkers in the area of the stewardship of finances recommend that we give 5% to our Church through the offertory collection, 1% to the Diocese and 4% to other charities that serve the poor and needy and support the common good in our communities. There is no “right” answer. Your gift is your return to God a proportion of gifts God has given you, which you choose to share with your parish and other charities. Your decision about the amount that you give will be one, which makes sense and truly reflects your gratefulness to God for the gifts you have received.
THE GIFT OF TALENT
If stewardship means taking care of, and sharing, all God’s gifts, then stewardship of the gift of talent means nurturing, developing and using the God-given abilities and characteristics that help to define “who we are” as individual human persons. Most of us know what it means to contribute money or to give away our precious time, but what does it mean to be a good steward of talent?
Our talents are the special blessings that each of us has received from a loving Creator who prizes the diversity and abundant variety of all creation. When we volunteer to work for our parish or diocese or to help a neighbor with a difficult chore what we have to give is much more than our time. We also give something of ourselves, those characteristics that make each of us distinctive as human beings. We call these our “talents”, those things that we’re good at or that we especially like to do. When we volunteer to help others by sharing our talents with them, we give them something far more precious than our time or money. We give them something of ourselves, an intimate sharing of “who we are” for the good of others.
All of the parishes, schools, agencies and institutions of the church in the United States are blessed with thousands of volunteers who share their talents with others. The “time and talent catalogues” that many parishes publish each year describe hundreds of ways that people can do and give of themselves from visiting the sick to frying fish, from counseling youth to serving on parish committees. These gifts of self are every bit as important as the financial contributions we make to support the church’s ministry.
“Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest; whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all.” (Mark 10:44)
I Will Do More Than Belong…
I Will Participate...
I Will Do More Than Believe…
I Will Practice...
I Will Do More Than Profess Faith…
I Will Serve...
Sharing Our Giftedness
As St. Paul teaches, the Lord endows us all with unique and special gifts. Some of us have gifts for leadership, some for healing, and others for administering. Some of us have gifts for building or growing things, some for teaching or serving as mentors. But whatever gifts we are blessed with, as Christians, we recognize that these gifts come from God. We bless these gifts and we bless the Lord for His Goodness.
As Christian stewards we also recognize that our gifts are meant to be shared with others, beginning with our family and friends, with those whom we gather to share the Eucharist, and with the world. The challenge for us is recognizing the sacredness of our gifts and acknowledging the importance of sharing them.