We Are What We Eat – Part 2

During April, the COMPASS blog is sharing perspectives about environmental stewardship and being eco-friendly on a budget. Today we welcome back regular contributor Dori Zerbe Cornelsen who reflects about how “We are what we eat.”

It is early spring where I live on the Canadian prairies.  There are just a few crocuses blooming in my otherwise still barren garden.  It’s the time of year when I begin to yearn for colour after a long white winter.

Produce from Metanoia Farmers

Produce from Metanoia Farmers

I also yearn for fresh food greens and veggies, grown locally.  One of the ways we have decided to enjoy fresh local produce in the summer is by participating in a Community Shared Agriculture project called Metanoia Farmers Worker Cooperative.  We buy a half share for the two of us and get to eat whatever the land is producing that week, by the work of hands of farmers we know, from sometime in June into September.

I like that faith is part of the Metanoia Farmers’ motivation.  Here is a description:

“The Metanoia Farmers Worker Cooperative is a group of CMU (Canadian Mennonite University) students and alumni, emerging as farmers motivated by our faith, who use sustainable practices to provide food to urban eaters.  We grow a wide variety of only heirloom vegetables and are developing our seed saving skills to continue to be able to grow these vegetables…The Metanoia Farmers operate as a workers cooperative, practicing consensus decision-making models.  We hope to foster meaningful dialogue while joyfully stewarding God’s gift of the land.”

dori-zerbe-cornelson-220x220I can almost taste the kale now…

About the AuthorDori Zerbe Cornelsen works with Mennonite Foundation of Canada encouraging and inviting generous living.  She and her husband Rick live in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Image Credit: Produce from Metanoia Farmers

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.

We Are What We Eat – Part 1

During April, the COMPASS blog is sharing perspectives about environmental stewardship and being eco-friendly on a budget. This week we consider how our decisions about food purchases impact environmental stewardship. Today we learn a little about the sustainable agriculture movement. Later this week we will welcome back regular contributor Dori Zerbe Cornelsen who reflects about how “We are what we eat.”

In a capitalistic society, mass-production of everything—including food—can be thought of as a good thing. New technologies, chemicals, and government policies have reduced the number of farmers and increased the size of farms. The number of farms in Canada decreased by more than 10% between 2006 and 2011. In the US, the number of farms decreased 3% between 2007 and 2012.

However, more attention is being paid to the concerns of this type of farming: topsoil depletion, economic effects of the decline of the family farm, poor living and working conditions for farm laborers, and increasing costs of production. These efforts can be defined as sustainable agriculture.

The University of California-Davis’s Agricultural Sustainability Institute names stewardship of both natural and human resources as important in sustainable agriculture. The Institute says that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

What a box of produce from your local CSA might contain

What a box of produce from your local CSA might contain

Participating in community-supported agriculture (CSA) can be sustainable and budget-friendly. You can buy a membership or subscription from a local farmer and receive produce in season in return. You can learn more about CSAs and search for one near you at www.localharvest.org/csa.

As we attempt to follow Christ’s example, we know that how we practice Christian stewardship is a measure of our faith’s authenticity: our commitment to unity and community, our concern for the needy, and our witness in the world.

Paying attention to how we use what God has given and entrusted us—including how we spend our food dollars—is part of our stewardship footprint.

Image Credit: CSA Box

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.

Eco-Friendly on a Budget

As the calendar turns to April, our focus turns to environmental stewardship. Later this month, on Friday April 22nd, the World will observe Earth Day 2016. In observance, the COMPASS blog will feature perspectives all about being environmentally friendly on a budget and our stewardship of the Earth.

eco friendlyThe first post in this series will take up the idea that “We Are What We Eat.” In addition to this, other reflections will include thoughts pertaining to: the stewardship of recycling; sustainability; community agriculture; the work of restoring creation; as well as water stewardship. If you would like to share a post or reflection within this theme, please let me know as we are always looking for more perspectives to share as part of COMPASS and our shared conversation about faith and finances.

To begin our conversation, consider these questions:

  • Do you think about where the food you eat comes from?
  • Do you actively recycle in your home and office?
  • Do you produce more things that go into recycling each week, or the garbage?
  • Do you leave lights on in rooms that you are not seated in? How about water running while you are brushing your teeth?
  • How might the answers to these questions be informed by your faith?

A Personal Confession

In asking these questions, I have to confess that I often come up a bit short. I don’t always eat the healthiest diet, nor always look for the most sustainable source of food. I do occasionally leave lights on in rooms that I am not in, and from time to time catch myself leaving the water running while no longer actively using the faucet. Even with the ability to recycle, I still think my wife Allison and I produce more garbage than recycling.

I work hard to recycle both at home and in the office, and this is made easier by living in neighborhoods and cities where recycling is a priority. However, I have come to learn through traveling, that this is not always the case across the country and world in all communities.

The way we care for our environment matters to me, because I believe that we are called to be stewards of creation. In Genesis we are reminded that God has created all, and invites us to participate with God in caring for it and working with it. When we lose sight of this, when we don’t show care for it, we are all impacted. Not only does it negatively impact the quality of our planet, it shows disrespect for the beauty that God has created for us to live and work in.

Environmental Stewardship on a Budget

How we live faithfully in this way on a budget sometimes may mean a bit more of a cost. Choosing to eat healthier may not always be the cheaper option. Recycling may not always be more budget friendly than garbage. But at least, utility costs are usually positively impacted when you turn the lights off as well as the faucet off. And, if you don’t mind it in the summer, you can turn the temperature up on your thermostat to save energy during the day, as well as down a bit during the winter to cut down on heating costs.

As we take up these questions this month, I invite you to share your perspective, and I look forward to the conversation together.

timothy headshotAbout the Author: Timothy Siburg is the Communications Associate for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and focuses especially on the center’s COMPASS initiative focused on creating conversations and resources for faith and finances among younger Adults and Millennials. Timothy also currently serves as a congregational mission developer, among a few other roles and blogs regularly on his own blog as well.

Image Credit: Eco Friendly

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.

Giving: A Practice in Joyfulness

During December, the COMPASS blog is sharing reflections related to giving, since this is an especially gift giving time of year. Today, regular contributor Nicole Brennan shares her story about a year of service in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and lessons she has learned from that experience about giving, in writing “Giving: A Practice in Joyfulness.”

A trend that is gaining steam in America is the practice of a “gap year.” A “gap year” is some length of time (usually a year) during which students take a break from their studies to live in the real world and do something fruitful. Many students do this after high school in between college, or like me, some do it following college.

Here I am in the homeless day shelter with one of the most memorable guests, John. I had the pleasure of witnessing his transformation throughout my year.

Here I am in the homeless day shelter with one of the most memorable guests, John. I had the pleasure of witnessing his transformation throughout my year.

To some, it isn’t a new concept. The Peace Corps was established in the United States in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy; AmeriCorps (the domestic counterpart) was established in 1993 by President Bill Clinton; and the volunteer program I entered, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, started informally in 1956. However, to me, it was a radical notion. I moved across the country without knowing a soul, promised a year of service, and was going to work with 700+ homeless people, mostly men, every day at a complex called Loaves & Fishes. I couldn’t have been more scared and excited!

My service year forever molded my life. I had many great experiences, including learning how to drive, living off $100 a month, and discovering the values of simplicity, community, and intentionality. I gave the gift of my time to the people who needed it. And believe me, I received far more benefits than anyone I helped.

A distinct lesson I learned during my service year was about giving and the true essence of a gift. Winter time in California is not as bitterly cold as it is in Chicago where I live now, but it is still cold when you are living on the streets. It seemed on every blustery day we were passing out gloves, hats, scarves, blankets, and if we were really lucky, hand warmers. But when you don’t have a permanent place to keep your stuff, you only carry what you can and it is easy to lose a glove.

We began passing out cold weather gear as late in the season as we could – only when the thermometer dipped below 40°F/4.44°C. Though people are very generous, the need is too great. We would run out of items very quickly, even though we had a strict policy of how many items people could have. It is heartbreaking to turn away a guy who just needs a pair of gloves. “I’m sorry Jason, but there just isn’t enough.” And it is even more heartbreaking to repeat that phrase to the twenty guys in line behind him. And more heartbreaking still, to repeat that phrase several times a day for weeks on end. (My heart hurt a lot that year, but it was also the most wonderful year of my life. I kept a blog of my experiences if you want to read more.)

Sometimes “you gotta do, what you gotta do.” Dirty dishes for 700+ was a one of those things.

Sometimes “you gotta do, what you gotta do.” Dirty dishes for 700+ was a one of those things.

I was lamenting about this heartbreak to my spiritual director, Sr. Claire. She wisely told me a story about Andora. Sr. Claire would run into this homeless woman often at the clinic she ran, and after a few years, an almost-friendship grew between them. Sr. Claire would always bring her hot meals, practical items, and a few dollars when she could. One day, Andora remarked about these gifts. She needed them, but moreover, Sr. Claire needed to give them. “Gifts are not so much about the person receiving them, but about the person who gives them.” Even though Andora needed these items, and the homeless gentlemen needed gloves, the true gift was the increased generosity in our own hearts.

I have to believe in the best in people – they gave what they could. And even though it was heartbreaking to not give out more, it was a joyful moment when the shelter had items to give away. Giving is a joyful event, and when you give, joyfulness and generosity pervade your life. Giving begets giving. When you know the joy that comes from giving, you want to duplicate that as much as possible!

profileAbout the Author, Nicole Brennan: Hello there! I’m passionate about living a stewardly lifestyle, while being adventurous and frugal. I currently live in community with six other 20-somethings in downtown Chicago and work as a Marketing Assistant at Barnabas Foundation, a partner of ESC and COMPASS. In my off hours, you can find me volunteering at a nearby homeless shelter, enjoying live music with friends, or watching reruns of Parks and Rec. Email me at nicoletbrennan@gmail.com or tweet me at @BarnabasFdn.

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.

Budgets, Charity, Giving, and #GivingTuesday

We begin a new month today, December. Over the weekend, those of us in liturgical Christian traditions began a new season and church year as well, with the beginning of Advent. Today also happens to be #GivingTuesday, a day that follows Thanksgiving and the likes of “Black Friday,” “Small Business Saturday,” and “Cyber Monday,” days that are focused on spending and supposed deals with potential for savings.

Hands holding a gift box isolated on black background

Giving- what does it mean to give? 

In this spirit, the COMPASS blog is sharing reflections and insights about budgets, charity, and giving during December. We’ll ponder about how to give on a budget. Among the reflections and perspectives you will hear from in the weeks ahead, are from people working in philanthropy for congregations, churches, and nonprofits.

For today though, this #GivingTuesday, I want us to reflect on what it means to give?

Paul writes to the Corinthians, “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NRSV). As I have written before, I believe that God has entrusted us with all that we have, and what we do with this is our joyful response. For me, this means intentionally budgeting to give, being generous, and helping be a part of God’s work in the world.

My wife Allison and I started having budget breakfasts a few years ago, where at least once a month, and lately usually twice a month, we check in and see how things are going. At these meetings, we strive to always take at least 10% of what we have earned or been given over the previous month, and direct that to giving, usually in our congregational offering. Believing that all that we have has been entrusted to us by God, what we have is not ours then, rather it’s God’s. Thus, we return to God a portion of what God has entrusted to us (kind of like the “Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25).

Allison and I give both because we see needs in the world and know that we have an ability to partner and respond, but also because we are so grateful for everyone near and far who have (and continue to) supported us thus far.

Allison and I give both because we see needs in the world and know that we have an ability to partner and respond, but also because we are so grateful for everyone near and far who have (and continue to) supported us thus far.

We also try and give a little each year to at least one of our alma maters as a way of paying it forward. We have been blessed with great scholarship support over our years of study from people who believe that education matters. We agree, and likewise want to help others in their pursuit of it.

Additionally, in our budget we leave some for potential usage or giving to respond to particular needs that may come up, or organizations doing good work that connect with our passions.

As today is #GivingTuesday, I want to invite you to consider giving some to an organization or group that you have heard about or seen in action that does good work responding to some of the needs of the world or local community. If you need some added motivation, there might even be incentives to give today like prizes or matching gifts. Of course, there is also the fact that your gifts are likely tax deductible and with it being December, the tax year will end at the end of the month.

What does it mean to you to give? Why do you give?

Are you participating in #GivingTuesday? If so, what types of causes or organizations are you supporting today and why?

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.

Image Credit: Giving.

Cultivating a grateful and generous spirit

Beautiful table with thanksgiving food

A Thanksgiving Feast

The calendar has turned to November. Some places have already received their first snowfalls of the year. Others have seen the leaves change colors and drop. In most of the United States and Canada, Daylight Savings Time has ended and it’s dark by dinner time. Even though the days are shorter, there still is much to give thanks for.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this month COMPASS will be sharing a multitude of reflections of thanks and why people give thanks. To start this month’s series, we are excited to welcome back to the blog COMPASS steering committee member and regular contributor Beryl Jantzi. Beryl shares some ideas for how to cultivate a grateful and generous spirit, a fitting place to begin a month’s worth of reflection on giving thanks.

A 2011 article by John Tierney which appeared in the New York Times stated how Thanksgiving has become the favorite holiday of psychologists who have studied the consequences of giving thanks. Cultivating gratitude has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners. A new study shows that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked.  This November consider expanding the spirit of generosity with activities that lead up to and continue after November 26.

Here are 7 ideas for ways before and after Thanksgiving Day, November 26th, from Lindsay Holmes to help cultivate gratitude and generosity:

  • Journal – recount your blessings
  • Don’t ignore the negative but balance it out with the positive that is around you as well
  • Spend time with those you love
  • Mindfully use social media – use it to build others up and affirm the good
  • Value the little things in life
  • Volunteer and serve others
  • Get moving – exercise and re-creation is good for the mind, body and soul

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that in order to achieve contentment, one should “cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”

What and who do you give thanks for this month?

Beryl Jantzi and familyAbout the Author: Beryl Jantzi currently serves as Stewardship Education Director for Everence, a Christian-based, member-owned financial services organization which is a ministry of Mennonite Church USA and other churches. 

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.

Image Credit: Thanksgiving

Frugal Fall

The leaves are turning colors and are beginning to fall. The days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are gradually falling. School classes are all back in full swing. The baseball season will end soon, after the World Series. Of course, we’re a month into the football season already too.

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

As we leave the warmth of summer behind and inch toward the chill and frost of winter, the COMPASS blog is giving space this October to questions of how to enjoy this season frugally and faithfully.

What do you love most about the fall? What things do you do to have fun, on a budget particularly at this time of year?

My wife Allison and I love this time of year. It can be fun to enjoy a crisp autumn afternoon out at the pumpkin patch, looking for the perfect pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern or to make the first pumpkin pie of the season. It can also be a lot of fun to go and pick some apples out in the apple orchards. These outings have proved to be fun dates for my wife and I the past couple of years. They are very affordable, and usually the only cost is to get to the patch or orchard, and the cost of the pumpkin or apples. We have also found that they are quite popular activities among many Millennials. Why not invite some friends and make it a fun day with them enjoying the outdoors?

If you live in a house and not an apartment, turn a chore into some frugal fun. You’ll probably be spending some time in your yard anyway raking the leaves before the start of winter. In the midst of this chore, take some time and remember your youth by jumping and playing in the piles of leaves. Just be sure and take a shower afterwards so you don’t have some little creepy crawlies stow away in your hair.

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

You can use leaves to make fall decorations for your home or apartment. They are really useful for Thanksgiving themed scenes around cornucopias, or other fall themed décor like a wreath for your front door. This can take a little time, but it’s a fun and very affordable project for this time of year.

By being frugal in the fall, you may be able to create some extra savings for other things. For example, by cutting back spending in the fall, you might be able to save more for Christmas gifts or, put some extra money away in your savings account, or pay more on your student loan payment.

As the days do get shorter though, the fall is also a good time to give thanks as we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada in October and in November in the United States. Give thanks for this time of year, and take a little time to see the blessings around you and share them with others. In place of perhaps a more routine meal prayer, take time before meals to share something you are thankful or grateful for each day as you pray. That sense of gratitude will make your days this time of year even richer. I for one am grateful and thankful for continued meaningful work, new opportunities, and the love and support of my wife, Allison, and God’s gift of these beautiful days of fall. What are you thankful for?

Now it’s your turn. What do you enjoy about the fall? How do you live frugally this time of year? What stories, tips, and examples can you share with others about how to live frugally and faithfully during the fall?

Image Credits: Pumpkin patch and Autumn leaves.

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.

Planning for the Fall- Stewardship and Young Adults

Where has all the time gone this summer? Can you believe that it is already August? For many faith communities, the end of summer is prime time for planning and finishing fall programming and ministry plans.

How do you engage young adults like these in your stewardship plans and ministry?

How do you engage young adults like these in your stewardship plans and ministry?

How does stewardship fit in?

During August, COMPASS will provide conversations and ideas for faith communities about stewardship for young adults: a core component of our focus to provide space and conversation for young adults about faith and finances.

Questions that we’ll think about this month may include:

  • How do you communicate, teach, and preach about stewardship with young adults in mind?
  • In what ways can you engage young adults in stewardship practices?
  • Do you teach children about stewardship concepts, and if so, how do you build on that experience as they grow older?
  • In what creative ways do you work across generations to facilitate conversations about stewardship, faith, and finances?
  • How do you see God at work in your stewardship ideas and plans?

As we discuss, share, and imagine this month, you will hear from some new guest writers including Adam Copeland, the newly appointed director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary, as well as from young adult pastors and other pastors and lay leaders who are experimenting with creative ways to engage young adults in stewardship.

If you are willing to share some ideas in the form of guest post, we would love to hear from you! Please let me know if you are interested via a comment below.

In the meantime, here’s one more question for you to consider: How do your experiences with faith and finances shape your understanding about stewardship, and how do they influence the stewardship story of your faith community?

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.

Summer and Vacation Fun on a Budget

During June, COMPASS is sharing ideas, experiences and stories for how to have summer fun on a budget. Today we welcome back Marcia Shetler, Executive Director and CEO of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center who shares some thoughts about vacations. 

RVI like to travel, and I come from a family of travelers, at least on my father’s side. My grandfather bought his first RV in the early 1960s, when that type of vehicle was somewhat of a novelty. Both my grandparents and parents spent a significant portion of their retirement years as full-time RVers. As a child and even a teenager, I looked forward to our family summer vacations each year, which were often trips to an Atlantic Ocean-side beach. As a parent, I was happy to be able to provide similar vacation experiences for our own children, including RV “camping”.

Writing about vacations, of course, is referring to a subject of privilege. North American culture tells us we deserve vacations and holidays, but many persons in our world cannot imagine such an opportunity. As Christians—and Christian stewards—should we view vacations from a perspective of entitlement, guilt, or something in between?

Aaron Crowe, editor at the Credit Solution Program, wrote an article titled 7 Reasons Why We Overspend on Vacation.  He includes a sense of entitlement on his list, and some other interesting factors, like letting the feeling of needing to run with the crowd to popular, hyped-up destinations trump real rest and solitude off the beaten path, which really would do us the most good. The last item on his list of reasons for overspending is “not practicing mindfulness and gratitude”. There’s a bit of a faith-based connection! He closes by saying, “So slow down and spend some time just lounging at the hotel pool instead of rushing out to spend more money. Really talk to your spouse and kids for once, instead of allowing everyone to tap away at their smartphone screens during dinner. When you’re grateful, you don’t need to fill some inner void by acquiring stuff.”

A resource of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative is a short video, “How do you decide what to do with your money?” One of the young adults in this person-on-the-street-style video shared that his mother encourages him to invest in experiences, not things. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told the crowds of his day—and he tells us—not to worry about food and clothing, and that God will provide for us. We need to make sure we are not packing those anxieties in our bags for vacation or otherwise.

Can your faith, budget, and holiday or vacation time really coexist? Karen Baker wrote about Five ways to explore your faith on vacation in the US Catholic. Consider these ideas, many of which are quite budget-friendly:

  • Visit a retreat center or take a trip to a place with spiritual significance.
  • Spend time outdoors in God’s creation.
  • Visit an historical site (like a birthplace or monument) of a person or group that you find inspiring.
  • Invest your vacation in God’s work and kingdom: volunteer near or far.
  • Do all of the above in areas close to home that you have yet to explore.

If you have the privilege of a summer vacation, consider that it is part of the blessings that God has given you, no matter what your budget. Be grateful, and be on the lookout for God’s presence, no matter where your travels take you!

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.

Image Credit: RV

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.