Stewarding the Self
By Kelsey McFaul
Tami Heim shares the power of our words, talents, and presence
This is the second post in Tami Heim’s Steward Leader Story. Click here to read her first post, Faithfulness for the Moment.
Steward leaders are called to surrender their relationships in four all-encompassing spheres: their relationships with self, with God, with others, and with creation. For many, the relationship with self is most challenging, even mysterious and confusing.
What kind of relationship with my self do I have? Why must I give it up? How can I without erasing myself in the process? Is there a way to relinquish my self that retains or even enhances the identity God created within me?
To the latter question, Tami Heim answers yes.
“There’s very sacred things that only you have that only you can give. And they will make the difference only you can make.”
Those sacred things, given to us by God, are aspects of our selves.
“I think the greatest way we make a difference is by the words we speak, by how we use the talents God has given us, and how we are present where we need to be.”
Words, talents, presence: all these are unique to our personhood and are our responsibility to steward.
“We live in a time where there’s a permanent weight to our words. Things are said and released and published and broadcast and made known that were never intended to be created. And everything is so responsive and reactive that seldom is there the space for wisdom to surface.”
Yet part of our identity as Christians is to create. Our words have power to create the kind of conversations we care about, the discourses we want to inhabit, the questions we desire to see addressed.
“The stewardship of our words means the thoughtfulness of them. Are we saying things that build up or are we saying things that tear down? If it doesn’t pass the Philippians 4:8 filter, why do we utter it?”
Tami’s referring to Paul’s encouragement to think (and speak) whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Stewarding our words doesn’t mean not talking about the things we care about, but rather talking about them in a way that is intentionally and thoughtfully focused on the fruit they might bear.
“I think every leader needs to think fully about the weight of their words and wherever they make those words known, because nobody can control your words but you.”
Stewardship of self also entails stewardship of our talents, those strengths God has given us to use for His glory. We can all identify those things we’re naturally good at: the strengths in our personalities, our capability for certain kinds of work, the hobbies and activities we enjoy. These, too, are facets of our selves we must steward.
“We have to come and surrender our gifts every day to God. We say, ‘You’ve wired me this way. How do I release it? How can I use it for Your glory in this day?’ And each one has something unique they have to give, and they have to really steward that well.”
With knowledge of our gifts must come honesty about our corresponding weaknesses as well. Equally a part of our selves, our weaknesses must be stewarded alongside our strengths.
“In the recognition of our gifts, there’s also the understanding of where we’re not gifted and the gap that only God can fill.”
In addition to our words and talents, Tami sees our very presence as part of our selves we must steward.
“Where are we going to go? What are we going to meditate on? What are we going to listen to, or watch? Jim Elliot said, ‘Wherever you are, be all there.’”
It’s also clear when we’re not stewarding our presence well: split between too many engagements, looking forward to the next thing, distracted, disengaged.
Stewardship of our presence acknowledges that our time, our bodies, and how we use them have impact. They are messages we send about the things we value and invest in. Conversely, our absences are powerful indicators of the things we distance ourselves from.
“We never know how the weight of our presence matters. But in this day and age, it’s just such a rare gift to give. No one else can give my presence to something or someone.”
When it comes to stewardship of the self, it’s helpful to remember no one possesses our words, talents, and presence but us. They are part of our identity, who God created us to be, and they should not be erased, silenced, or misused.
Rather, recognizing the power of our words, talents, and presence, and being thoughtful about their impact are part of what it means to be a good steward. They are qualities of a leader, even if leadership isn’t in one’s title.
“I think of leadership as influencing the thinking, the behavior, and the development of others. We’re always influencing something, no matter who we are. Whether we have the position and the title or not, we make a difference. Don’t waste the very sacred things that only you can give.”