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Follow Christ's example of focusing on what matters most

Columnist Emily Carson says stewardship takes many forms, but taking care of where we spend our time and energy is, perhaps, most important.

Holy Everything — Emily Carson column sig
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Autumn is the season often designated for congregational conversations about stewardship. It’s a good time of year to reflect not only on financial giving but all the areas of life we are invited to steward.

A steward is one invited to take excellent care of something belonging to someone else. If we begin from the perspective that everything belongs to God, then we are the stewards called to take excellent care of all of it including (but not limited to) property, abilities, relationships, attention, money and the planet.

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At the beginning of the year, I shared with you that my resolution for 2022 was to pay attention to my attention. This has become a daily stewardship practice and something I’ll need to continue to work on far beyond the end of this year. There are so many directions for one’s attention, and this year has revealed that I sometimes spend it unwisely. Few things shape our lives more than how we steward our attention.

Part of my job is working with congregations in reaching their stewardship goals. I am grateful for regular opportunities to talk with committees and councils about how they steward their physical building space, funds, community relationships, and the time and attention of their members.

Jesus modeled wise stewardship of attention throughout his ministry, and we can learn much through his example. He had a clear sense of where to place his focus and, conversely, he also understood what wasn’t worth his energy.

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Taking the time to read any of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in its entirety serves as a useful way to glean a clear sense of how Jesus spent his attention. A read-through of the Gospel of Mark reveals that Jesus spent the majority of his energy healing the sick people around him, teaching large groups about justice through the use of parables, preparing his followers to carry the movement forward and disrupting the misuse of religious power.

According to Mark, Jesus focused his attention on reaching as many people as possible with the good news. He provided folks with tangible experiences of God’s justice, grace and compassion by meeting the needs of those around him. Jesus especially focused on those at the margins of society, those most often ignored, slandered and neglected, and treated them with dignity and respect.

Dear readers, may we together continue to pay attention to our attention. Few things will shape our lives and the legacy of Christianity more than where we choose to focus. May God guide us all in the faithful stewardship of our attention.

"Holy Everything" is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor. Visit her website emilyannecarson.com .

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