Vocationally, we all are earth stewards (even if we don’t have a “green job”)

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.” 

Mary Oliver

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.

LED Lights in the Hotel Lobby

LED Lights in the Hotel Lobby

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.

Carl bio picAbout 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.

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Happy Earth Day!

During the month of April, the COMPASS blog is providing space for questions and reflections related to Earth Day and creation care.

earthdayapril22Happy Earth Day!

Previously on the blog we began to share some reflections about environmental stewardship, creation care and the way we care for the Earth. As today is the actual day that we celebrate Earth Day, here are 9 questions for reflection that I am using today, but perhaps you too might find useful:

1.) How do I actively find ways to “reduce, reuse and recycle?” For example, in thinking just about paper products, how many napkins do I use when I eat a meal? How many paper towels do I use when using a public restroom? Do I use both sides of paper before recycling it?

2.) How much water do I consume each day for daily chores and cleanliness? How much of it is used outside? In what ways might I reduce my water usage?

3.) In what ways might I be able to reduce my carbon foot print through driving less or using mass transit more intentionally?

4.) How might my asking questions and inviting conversation about the care of the Earth make an impact in a positive way?

5.) What does it really mean when we are reminded that all we have has really been entrusted to us by God? What are the implications of this on our daily life?

6.) In what ways might I be able to help clean and steward the natural habitats around me by volunteering or participating with local efforts to restore streams and watersheds?

7.) How can I make a positive impact in my own community in creating for the earth?

8.) In my travels and experiences, what is the most unique or ingenious way I have seen by someone of creatively stewarding natural resources?

9.) When thinking about the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth,” what images come to mind as you listen to the lyrics or sing them?

Oh, and for a bonus question, how might God be calling or leading me to respond to the needs of creation?

What do you think of these questions? How are you observing Earth Day today or this week?

Image Credit: Earth Day

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.

Earth Day, Creation Care & Stewardship

During the month of April, the COMPASS blog is providing space for questions and reflections related to Earth Day and creation care. To start this month’s series, I thought I would share some of my own thoughts and reflections.

EarthPsalm 24 begins, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (NRSV) This claim has great implications for our understanding and interaction with the earth and all of creation. I begin here because COMPASS provides space for reflections around faith, finances and stewardship for young adults.

Sometimes when we think about stewardship, we only think about money. In his book Shalom Church: The Body of Christ as Ministering Community, Craig Nessan writes that, “Contrary to prevailing stereotypes, stewardship is not only about money. Instead stewardship has to do with responding to God’s generosity by caring for all God has entrusted to us” (127).

Buddy with Allison and Me

Buddy with Allison and Me

As I think about the ways I care for all that God has entrusted to me, a few initial thoughts come to mind:

  • My wife Allison and I have a pet cat named Buddy. We care for Buddy as a part of our family.
  • We own one car.
  • We try to recycle as much as we can.
  • We turn off the water while we brush our teeth.

I could go on, but these are a few examples of how we are trying to care for all God has entrusted to us.

Some aspects of creation care are probably easier for young adults to do than others. For example, using less transportation (like having one car like Allison and I have) or public transportation may be a financial necessity. Reducing our use of technology and resulting consumption of electricity may be a harder commitment to make. Millennials and young adults have grown up with computers, laptops, television, cellphones, etc. which we are largely dependent on for work, livelihood and entertainment. Do we think about how this effects our carbon footprint because of the electricity used to power them?

On a larger scale, because of the issues of natural resource usage and climate change, Millennials wonder what kind of earth is they are inheriting. What are the implications, for example, of the great water emergencies in California on food supply sustainability, the provision of life, etc. and our life and consumer choices related to them?

Reflecting about Creation

Reflecting about Creation and the way we steward it.

During the month of April we will try and unpack some of these questions as we reflect about creation and the earth in observation of Earth Day.

Things to Consider

How often do you use electricity? How much water do you use in your daily life? Do you intentionally recycle? Do you think or reflect about the way you use the earth’s resources?

Future April blog posts will feature perspectives from others related to creation care and stewardship of the earth. If you would like to share a story or reflection as part of this series, please let me know, and welcome to the conversation!

Image Credits: Earth and Question and Reflection.

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.