This section of the book is from the "A Man and His Money" book, by Harvey Reeves Calkins , published in 1915.
Fateh Singh, of Cawnpore, was formerly a Sikh. He is now a Christian. His unfeigned simplicity of life is a strong influence for good in the midst of that great Hindu city. His patriarchal bearing marks him for what he is, a gentle and faithful soul. Years ago, seeking for the light but finding it not, he walked barefoot for hundreds of miles to a famous Hindu shrine in the lower Himalayas. That he might add still further to his weight of religious "merit," he gave to the Hindu priests fifty rupees in silver, the laborious savings of many years, for Fateh Singh was then, and is now, a poor man. His gift to the priests was wholly sincere, and it was certainly religious. Was it stewardship ?
When the will of the late Richard T. Crane, of Chicago, was probated it was found that, under its terms and by verbal instructions to his two sons, certain public charities were to receive more than a million dollars for endowment, and another million was to provide pensions and disability benefits for employees of the Crane Company. The generous intent of the great iron master, and the fidelity of his sons in fulfilling the desires of their father, are beyond praise. But the question forms itself into words: Was the Crane will an act of stewardship?
During the winter of 1914, the public prints chronicled a noble service of consecration. The widow of the late Charles Emory Storrs, formerly postmaster-general of the United States, and ambassador to Russia, took the vows of a nun in an Eastern convent, and made over her large fortune to the Roman Catholic Church. It was a self-sacrificing act of devotion, inspired by sincere religious convictions. But the question presses: Was it stewardship?
I was present at an impressive missionary anniversary. The secretary of a great missionary society delivered the address. He stirred a sympathetic audience with anecdote and song. Out of his own great heart he inspired them with contagious human enthusiasm. At an opportune moment he presented the needs of the Missionary Society and called for contributions. The response was exhilarating. Cash and pledges flowed toward the platform in generous amounts. The secretary, rejoicing, departed on a midnight train, and the people, tired but contented, returned to their homes. Undoubtedly a genuine human service had been rendered, but the question drives still deeper: Was it stewardship ?
The incidents named are very similar. The motives in each case are wholly sincere and very human. The Hindu gave that he might obtain merit, the philanthropist to satisfy the kindly feelings of his own nature, the widow to find comfort in her sorrow, the enthusiast to give vent to his aroused sympathies. In each case there is a complete sense of personal ownership, and therefore the evident right to give to others a part or the whole of one's possessions, as it may please the owner. But stewardship is not "giving." The generous man and the penurious man may err in equal measure, for the steward is not administering for himself, but for Another. Stewardship is the recognition that God is the owner of all economic value, and, therefore, that private property can be no other than a sacred trust.
Stewardship is the attitude of a Christian toward his possessions. But it is very much more than this. Stewardship is the Christian law of living. The stewardship of privilege, of opportunity, of experience, of education, of artistic talent, of mental and spiritual gifts, in a word, the whole inclusive stewardship of personality— this, indeed, is the Christian life. Something else may be religion, but it is not the religion that is taught by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. In its wide sweep of Christian movement, stewardship is the heart of missions. The church is steward of the mysteries of God, civilization is steward of the higher human values, the men who have are stewards in behalf of the men who have not. To have is to owe, not own.
Stewardship is under one compulsion, and only one. But this is absolute: "It is required in stewards that, a man be found faithful." Intelligence is surely demanded, for without intelligence stewardship becomes a dull foolishness peculiarly reprehensible. Stupidity in a steward is difficult to overlook. Nevertheless the stupid steward may he borne with, though he will deserve the condemnation spoken by Jesus: "He shall be beaten wilh few stripes." But, if stupidity may he home with, not so unfaithfulness. Concerning the unfaithful steward the Master spoke these solemn words: "He shall be cast into outer darkness." Stewardship may survive ignorance, but it can never survive the violation of allegiance. It is the business of a steward to be alert, but to he faithful is more than his business; it is his life.
Honor, therefore, is the one outstanding condition of stewardship. Constancy is its one commanding attribute. Hut constancy is not a dead level of virtue. There is the fidelity of a dog to its master, the fealty of a servant to his employer, the loyalty of a son to his father, the allegiance of a friend to his comrade, the faithfulness of a wife to her husband. But a friend's allegiance cannot be measured by the fealty of a servant, nor can the obedient loyalty of a son comprehend the unchanging faithfulness, of a Wife.
On the night before his crucifixion Jesus Christ spoke these words to his disciples: "No longer do I call you servants for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth, hut I have called you friends." Let that word measure the quality of a man's fidelity. It is the loyalty of friendship. It implies vital partnership. The loyally of a servant, receiving wages, will not shirk a given task; it awaits direction, and will complete its full quota of service. But the loyalty of a friend will not carry in the outer court. It has something to give more than service. It demands and receives entrance into the secret place. Friendship knows nothing of wages, which is the hire of a servant. Friendship prefers to accept the burden and share the responsibility of partner ship. The loyal allegiance of friendship is the spirit of stewardship.
Stewardship is alive with personal meanings. The word comes out of the vivid life of the Orient. There is color in It, and the glow of living things. Trusteeship is similar in meaning, hut this is a cold Westernism; it. lacks the glow and personality of stewardship, its Eastern synonym. A trustee administers his trust under legal sanctions and restraints. He follows specific instructions from which he may not depart. In many cases he is carrying out the "will" of a deceased testator, whose personal desire has lost its power, except as it is preserved in set phrases and iron restrictions. But the steward knows nothing of legal requirements. He is the personal representative of a living Master. His keen ambition Hi to know his Master's mind, and then, unhidden, to fulfill his Master's program, He is not a servant except in a high and confidential capacity. Like burden Eliezer in the tents of Abraham, "all the goods of his master are in his hand." Of the steward, Joseph, in the house of Potiphar, it is written that the Egyptian captain "left all that he had in Joseph's hand, and he knew not aught he had, save the bread which he did eat."
This, then, is stewardship—that I shall recognize and acknowledge the lordship of Another. The powers and possibilities of my being are my Lord's estate. They are committed in honor to my care. They are therefore to be administered as a sacred trust. Every act of a man's life is judged by this standard, every ambition becomes worthy or base as it keeps in mind this purpose.
Stewardship is not a merely pleasant altruism. It exalts the good of others because it is devoted to the will of One Other. There can be no stewardship, either of life or possessions, where Jesus Christ and his program are not recognized. The Hindu may wear his life away in acts of devotion, and pour out silver as water, but his only motive is to lay up merit for himself. He is capable of like devotion to Another, but this he does not know. The philanthropist gives money for charity, but, whether or not the poor have the gospel preached to them, this does not interest him. That this was the first concern of Jesus is a matter of small moment. When one enters upon a life of consecration, shall one seek surcease from sorrow? When one gives to missions, shall one wait for the exhilaration of a crowd? Stewarship can rest on none of these. Stewardship, frankly, has forgotten how to please itself. No human vicissitude can interrupt its constancy. Fullness and emptiness, loneliness and companionship—they are all part of the "estate" to be administered. If, in administering for Another, one's own perfect welfare is assured, this also is the nature of stewardship. The steward disdains success, and will have none of it, except it come through the success of his Lord. He refuses the laurel of victory if his Partner is not included in the honor, for friendship never counts the cost, and partnership withholds nothing. As Christ prospers upon the earth, so prospers the steward of his estate.