What Do I Own and What Owns Me?

Written for Giving magazine by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center

 What Do I Own and What Owns Me? A Spirituality of Stewardship                                                       Daniel Conway, Twenty-Third Publications, 2008 Third Printing

 Stewardship is a source of deepening spirituality and grace, says Daniel Conway, when it helps us develop a lifestyle of growth in gratitude, generosity, sharing, and responsibility. In What Do I Own and What Owns Me, Conway sets stewardship within the context of discipleship. He prompts readers to ask themselves two fundamental questions:

  • “What do I own?” – I can consider the three most significant spiritual gifts God has given me, and also my most prized material possessions; and
  • “What owns me?” – Have I completely surrendered my life and will to God, or am I holding back?

This down-to-earth book contains plenty of nuggets to ponder and apply to our way of living, such as:

  • The rich and the comfortable may possess the illusion of control, “but in fact, we are all entirely in God’s hands – utterly dependent on the divine mercy and goodness for everything that we have and all that we are.” (45)
  • Stewardship involves continuing to accept God’s gifts, and also giving / sharing with others. It invites us to come alive. (51)
  • Stewardship as a way of life involves three principles, or commitments: mature discipleship, no quick fixes, and the power to change our lives. (65)
  • “Both the ordinary experiences of daily living and the most profound moments of our life and death are gifts from God to be cherished and shared with others.” (12)
  • Stewardship “asks us to do something far more difficult [than solely making financial gifts], and that is to share ourselves. To share our time, our abilities, our ministry, our relationships. Stewardship is really a call to be a holy people.” (18)
  • “In the end, it doesn’t matter who we are. It doesn’t matter one darn bit what we own. What matters is our decision to follow Jesus – in spite of the cost – and to place all our trust in a good and gracious God.” (62)
  • “When we take stewardship seriously, the agenda switches from the church’s resource needs to the individual Christian’s need for a spirituality of daily living; from the demands of diocesan and parish ministry to the far more radical demands of trying to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ today. This places stewardship at the very heart of Christian life. . . .” (60)

This book can be a terrific catalyst for small groups, or for spiritual growth. A church-wide study of it could be innately tied into any worship season of the Christian Year.