The Foundation of Your Generosity Message
We often use the words stewardship and generosity casually and with the assumption that everyone holds the same definition and understanding of the two words. For some, the two walk hand in hand with little differentiation between them, while others see only a remote connection.
Before you can build a strategy around stewardship and generosity, you must come to a common understanding of the words, how they translate to your congregation or audience, and what they mean to you.
What is Stewardship?
The word stewardship was originally derived from the Greek word Oikonomos, which means the manager of a household or household affairs. Not the owner of the house, but the manager. The theology of stewardship takes this further, believing that all of humankind should steward what God has created. This includes, but is not limited to, an individual’s time, talents, and worldly goods.
When stewardship is mentioned in the church, we often think of the annual stewardship focus or the call for giving to the church. This is too limiting to the word, as stewardship is a lifestyle and a spiritual discipline that can and does draw one closer to God.
What is Generosity?
Generosity is a virtue—like honesty and patience—that we all probably wish we had more of. When you demonstrate generosity, you might give away things or money or put others before yourself. However, generosity is about more than cash and “stuff.” When you’re forgiving and gentle to people, you show generosity of spirit. If you give others help or credit, that also shows generosity.
Using this definition, generosity is a personal choice to give what someone possesses to another individual or organization.
How Do They Work Together?
There is a subtle difference in the definition, but one that is rarely taken into consideration when the words are used interchangeably.
Some might think this is simply a war of words or semantics, but it is deeper than that as we seek ways for individuals to grow in their spiritual life and ministry. There are also generational differences in the understanding of generosity and stewardship that must be taken into consideration. There is no easy answer to this debate, but one thing that is clear is that we must be intentional in our use of the words generosity and stewardship.