stew·ard·ship: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially, the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. (Merriam-Webster dictionary)
Well those annoying TV political advertisements have begun. It is the year of elections and now we get to watch as our politicians do battle against each other over the issues and their character. It is a wearisome sight, and most Americans know that commercials very rarely give a true picture of those that seek our vote. They are designed to manipulate, and like a slick used car salesmen, their purpose is to get you to buy something: them.
And that is the problem. Americans have buying a lot lately and we have gotten ourselves into quite a pickle. The era of “me first now” has finally reaped the whirlwind and we are seeing the results of poor stewardship both in our government and in our own homes. The consequences of living for today has robbed our children of their future prosperity and put our country on a dangerous course towards financial bondage.
Although it will take a lot of effort, and possibly a generation or two, there is still hope. But it will require sacrifice on our part, as well a firm, hard line of accountability directed towards our elected officials. No longer can we elect and forget. We must elect and vigilantly watch. In addition, in order to be able to demand proper stewardship from those we elect, we must learn to practice it in our own homes. We need to remember that what we have in our possession is only temporary, entrusted to our care for a short period of time. And I am not just talking about our stuff or our money, I am also speaking of our family. How we care for all these not only shapes us, but it will also shape our future.
We elect people to office so they can take on the responsibility for those bigger things that are not in our immediate circle, but still need to be watched over, like national security, international relations, and the public purse. The primary focus of elected officials should be on how best to take care of that which is entrusted to them by their employers (us). Before they ever act on legislation or rulings, they should be constantly asking questions such as these: Is this a good use of the tax money we have collected? Can we afford this? How will this affect the future generations? Does this honor the Constitution? Would we do this if this were our own home or if these were our own children? Would we be ok if this was done to us individually? Are we giving preferential treatment to one group of Americans over another? Does this interfere with individual liberty? Do the American people truly want this, or do we want them to want this? Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of our people or just for the good of our party? And finally, the biggie: will this honor the Creator, upon which our very foundational documents rest?
All of these are hard questions, and some may not have easy answers in all circumstances. I do not envy those that seek public office: it is very demanding and stressful. However, it has been a long time since our politicians have remembered the fact that they are only temporary stewards. The purpose of getting elected is not to gain power over us but to give power to us. We did not elect them to be our nannies, we elected them to protect our stuff and our liberty. The money in the U.S Treasury is not theirs, the military is not theirs, our personal property is not theirs, our income is not theirs, our food is not theirs – get the picture?
Steward is just another word for servant, and a servant always has a master. It used to be that the American people were the masters of their government, and not the other way around. Unfortunately, it seems that we have exchanged the royal aristocracy of England for the political aristocracy of Washington. The servant has now become the master. Our elected officials have lost sight of what true stewardship is, and it is time that we remind them about the limited duties they have.
So politicians, please sit down, shut up, listen, and take notes. Your masters are speaking.
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Colonial armies during the American Revolution, and America’s 1st President.