By Tim Lilley
The Message editor
Catholic author, speaker, consultant, and Gallup-certified Strengths coach Tracy Earl Welliver recently taught pastors, parish leaders and Diocese of Evansville staff about the stewardship way of life.
The Diocesan Office of Stewardship held its first Stewardship Day on Feb. 27 at the Catholic Center in Evansville, and Welliver led the event by providing a look into the many elements of stewardship as a true way of life.
He called his presentation “Everyday Stewardship in Everyday Language for Everyday People.”
Bishop Joseph M. Siegel welcomed attendees from across the diocese. Before leading them in prayer, he noted the many scriptural reminders of the importance of stewardship – sharing the blessings God has given us.
Welliver said his goal during Stewardship Day was to “get everyone on the same page. I hope that I can help everyone focus on the reality that stewardship truly is a powerful response to our baptismal call.
“My mission is to challenge what people are doing now,” he said. “There is a lack of understanding of what true stewardship is.”
Welliver has served as Director of Parish Community and Engagement for Wisconsin-based Liturgical Publications. Literally as the diocesan Stewardship Day was closing, Welliver and other LPi staff attending got an email announcing his promotion to a national-level directorship with the company. He has a BA in theology from DeSales University and a MTS from Duke Divinity School. He spent more than 20 years in parish ministry before joining LPi.
Years before joining LPi, Welliver said he was moved – and challenged – by the U.S. Bishops’ 1992 pastoral letter on stewardship, “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.” He discussed its three major elements – challenge, choice and vision.
He explained that true stewardship challenges everyone “to be mature disciples who respond to the call of Jesus Christ, regardless of the cost.” As a result, we are faced with a choice – to embrace stewardship “as a way of life, not a series of actions.” Making that choice impacts our vision because the stewardship way of life “is transformational.”
“We are called to know Jesus because He is alive; He is with us,” Welliver said. “What comes next is to serve. To truly live the stewardship way of life, we must truly know and love the person of Christ.”
Welliver related multiple Gospel parables to stewardship, including:
- Parable of Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) – “We are called to use all that we have been given, without hiding anything away like one of the servants in this parable. What is it that you’ve been given that you’ve hidden away?”
- Parable of the Widow’s Offering (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4) – “We are called in this way of life in such a way that there is an obligation to truly feel what we give,” Welliver said. “It’s not about volunteerism; it’s about a real call and a real obligation.”
- Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) – “What will God find when He plants the Word in us? In the stewardship way of life, there is a process of discerning how, when and where we will give,” he said.
- Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32) – “Sometimes, it takes just a little bit to make a huge impact,” Welliver offered. “Is there anything you can do or give that will have huge impact?”
- Parable of the Pearl of Great Value (Matthew 13:45-46) – Welliver asked, “What are you willing to give to attain the kingdom of Heaven?” He added that surrendering all to Christ is an act of stewardship.
- Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) – Welliver said this parable “illustrates very well the message of stewardship.” He said that our talents come down to all those things we are gifted with. “There isn’t anything we have that isn’t a gift from God,” he said. “If you have children, they are actually God’s children,” he suggested. “He gifted them with you, and you have an obligation to do everything you can, given everything you can – regardless of cost – to take care of them for God. That is stewardship!”
Welliver concluded the day by saying that living the stewardship way of life involves “picking up your cross and following Jesus. How will you do that? Ultimately,” he added, “the stewardship way of life is about leading people to Heaven.”
Diocesan Director of Stewardship Matt Potter has made the bishops’ pastoral letter available to readers of The Message. Download it by using this link (link is case-sensitive): http://bit.ly/2wXqfRZ.