During the month of April, the COMPASS blog is providing space for questions and reflections related to Earth Day and creation care. Today it is my great pleasure to introduce you to guest blogger Carl Samuelson, an energy efficiency consultant in Minnesota. Carl shares some great thoughts about how he believes “we are all earth stewards.”
I’ve been known to tell college students in informational interviews that we don’t need any more non-profit environmental advocates. What we do need is more baristas who are effective advocates for greening their company—and more software engineers and accountants and students and police officers and x-ray technicians, all who take on that role, as well. We need more people in every career, who consider it their responsibility, their mission, their calling to impact environmental change in their organization.
In our economy we specialize, so that I don’t need to be good at fixing my car or sewing clothes. Likewise, we would like to think that we can have a select group of people, the full-time environmental advocates, specialize in caring for the earth. The rest of us can support them when they come to our door asking for money and they’ll take care of the rest. I’m thankful that there are full-time environmental advocates, they can pay extra attention to the politics, research new technologies, develop programs, and equip us with resources – but stewardship of the earth is not the task we can outsource, it is each of our vocation.
I recently worked with a hotel to help them reduce their energy use. This hotel planned to do a lighting upgrade. A maintenance staff member was telling me how excited he was to be replacing the lighting in the pool area with LED lights. I asked why, assuming he was going to tell me something about cutting down his time changing lights, but instead he looked at me like I was daft and said, “It’s just the right thing to do, you know.” Amid so much talk of paybacks and improved light quality and good business decisions, I had forgotten that doing this lighting upgrade brought meaning to this hotel employee’s job. It gave him a deeper sense of vocation.
Environmentalism is often viewed more as an avocation than a vocation. But we need to set the bar higher than “minor hobby” and strive for “something deserving of practice and dedication”. For me, I think this role of earth steward needs to rise to the level of identify. Core to our existence is our responsibility to care for creation. It’s another way of saying love the neighbor.
We all need a kick in the pants, sometimes, to keep doing more with our “one wild and precious life.” We settle and stop taking on new lifestyle changes, or advocating politically, or bringing up the environment at work or over beers with friends. Refocusing on vocation can help – this is the work of your life, what impact will you have? Whether you work for a large company, a small non-profit, the government, or you are looking for work – how can you speak truth about caring for the earth in your context. How can you make Earth Steward your vocation without changing fields? The impact might be what we are called to do.
About the Author: Carl Samuelson was pretty sure he was done with church, but concepts of environmental stewardship, radical hospitality, deep community, and the counter-cultural nature of God’s abundance have caused him to put anchor down at the corner of Saint Clair and Prior in Saint Paul, MN (Pilgrim Lutheran Church). He works as an energy efficiency consultant, helping businesses reduce their energy use, and is in continual amazement that that really is his job.
Image Credit: “Wild and Precious Life”
This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook, and ESC on Twitter.