Ask a friar…Stewardship

What is stewardship?


"Stewardship" is a term that has a technical connotation in reference to Catholic social teaching. The basic sense of the word "steward," from the Oxford Dictionary, is "a person employed to manage another’s property, especially a large house or estate." We get a good sense of what this looks like in the Lord of the Rings. The "Stewards of Gondor" were placeholders for the kings, who had disappeared in the time wherein the films take place. They administered their estate and realm, but made no strict legal right to "own" it. In fact, if the king were to return (as he does at the end of the third film), the steward is obligated to turn it over as the king’s, not his, rightful property. In the same way, all of creation is not our’s by rights - but God's. We are given dominion over creation to shape and perfect it, but not to destroy. And, as stewards, when the Lord Jesus returns, we will have to show that we have kept good care of it. It implies an attitude whereby we thank God for His gifts and use them to better the lives of other people, not merely hoard or destroy them for our own selfish ends.