When we take the radical view that all of creation is granted to us for a short time, that it is GIFTED to us, was created for us to live in, was handed to us by those that came before, and we will hand to our children and their children – then we start seeing ourselves as stewards, not owners. The difference seems subtle, but it is hugely counter-cultural – and hugely freeing.
This idea carries to all things, not just possessions like houses, money, jobs, the environment. It also means even our families. Instead of talking about ‘our/my children’, we instead see we are granted stewardship over our children until they become adults. This view requires we realize our children are unique people that do not ‘belong’ to us, but each is entrusted to us for a short time and has a unique path to God with gifts to give to others and creation. Our job as parents is to help them find that way. There is much sadness in our world because people believe children are somehow ‘theirs’ or expect them to fulfill parental desires and expectations – but not seen as amazing gifts granted to us to care for a short time.
This notion of stewardship is granted to us from the very moment of Adam and Eve – who were given ‘dominion’ over the rest of creation not to abuse it or use it however we wanted – but to be co-creators, co-stewards, with God. It is essential to any Christian view of our lives, the lives of others, our environment, the world, and the things we possess. Christ’ parables again and again talk of servants and stewards given temporary roles over another’s property, goods, and servants. If we can adopt this radical notion that everything that passes through our lives is something we are given stewardship over, not ownership, we can live not attached to the things we own, but with a gentle, freeing detachment.