What is stewardship?
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, stewardship is
the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care
There is a big difference between caring for something and caring for something entrusted to one’s care. Stewardship acknowledges that in care there is a community aspect, that we will impact someone else’s life with our care or lack thereof.
Stewardship is the antithesis of self involvement. It requires involved engagement, willingness to meet all of nature and life on its own terms. As a result, stewardship is a way to make choices that serve everyone without being controlling, because you are making choices with a different objective. With stewardship, you seek the choice that serves everyone and all life forms. So you are making a choice not a demand which is what most forms of management are.
What Is Stewardship Thinking?
Stewardship thinking lets us bring the spirit of friendship and goodwill to the way we handle what is in front of us. It is a way of thinking that recognizes that choices have impact beyond immediate considerations. Its primary value is quality of life both in the short-term and long-term. It does not devalue the long-term to serve short-term considerations.
One of the wonderful things about stewardship thinking is that it respects our history and the contributions of our ancestors whose work has created the infrastructure that supports us. So stewardship thinking respects what it has taken for us to get this far and therefore does not unnecessarily sacrifice the future for present short-sightedness. Stewardship and stewardship thinking are the antithesis of exploitation.
The Relationship Between Stewardship And Values
By placing the values of friendship and goodwill above results, people who operate on a stewardship basis have a better chance of achieving positive outcomes:
- because there is no adversity in stewardship, only the next step
- because all life and life forms matter and support each other so decisions and choices need to do the same
- because in creating a healthy present a healthy future becomes possible
- because outcomes are the result of processes that are created to support values. Values are the first priority, everything stems from them.
Stewardship thinking sees the interdependence of all things, and so is not in a rush to do harm in any way, since to do so affects the quality of the interdependent web of life. It does not place humans at the center of the universe, it places us as one of many species on our planet. It does not make one life more important than another; it seeks to value all living creatures and looks for ways to positively affect the living of all creatures.
The Benefit Of Stewardship Thinking
There is no in and no out. Everything and all are in – as a result there are no games. There is no one to reject and no fear of rejection. Stewardship in seeking quality of life sets a high standard for decision-making.
Stewardship thinking is holistic so it has space for anyone to contribute to quality of life. Since we all benefit from anyone’s contribution to our well-being, all contributions can be welcome. Since all contributions are welcome and all living creatures matter the spirit of cooperation reigns and there is little need for one upmanship, and power plays.
Stewardship thinking gets rid of the fear that plagues most lives and replaces it with a natural feeling regard that makes everything simpler. If love, as many wise people say, is our natural state, stewardship thinking is our natural way of operating.