In this week’s post, Rev. Anna Ostenso Moore describes her recent journey to “yes” and stewardship. Even for those of us who love preaching, addressing money in the pulpit can be provoke anxiety, doubt, and shame. In this week’s post, Anna calls out what helped her find her stewardship grounding. In next week’s post she’ll share the fruits of the journey.
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
A Holy Process towards Stewardship Speaking: Part 1
Anna V. Ostenso Moore
After recently guest preaching and presiding at a congregation this past spring, I was invited back—this time to preach about stewardship, specifically pledging and money. As soon as I had written down all of the details of date, program, and expectations, two voices inside me began competing to be heard.
The first was a voice of excitement:
You love preaching. This will be a fun challenge. Say yes.
The second was a voice of anxiety and doubt:
Who do you think you are? Not an expert! Not someone who knows enough! What if you’re not successful? What if you fail? Definitely say no!
I asked for two weeks to consider the program and make sure the dates worked with my primary ministry. Shortly after, I realized I had a scheduling conflict. Relief washed over me when I realized that I could just say no without the internal struggle. The inviting congregation responded by changing their stewardship Sunday to accommodate my schedule. Doh! My voices of doubt grew louder as I realized my task was to wrestle with personal questions of worthiness; why I would say yes as someone who is not an “expert” on stewardship.
As I was engaging these questions, I was also studying to be a certified leader of The Daring Way™, an empirically based training and certification program for helping professionals, based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. The curriculum focuses on the topics covered in Brown’s books including courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Some of the work toward certification is deeply personal, like exploring within a cohort what shame and vulnerability look like for each of us. Not surprisingly, one way shame announces its presence in my life is with my inner voices that speak with anxiety and exclamation points! We were also tasked with writing personal mantras that grounds ourselves when we feel vulnerable. My mantra stems from my beliefs as a follower in the Way of Jesus:
I am a beloved child of God.
I am enough.
My mantra is what my answer came down to: I am a beloved child of God. I am enough. From that I was able to say yes to the stewardship invitation and explore my specific call around this topic with self-compassion. I feel called to normalize conversations around money and to ground those conversations within God’s generosity in our life. I feel called to frame financial practices as spiritual practices. I am enough, not perfect nor an expert.
I can start with where I am now: my stories, my doubts, and my wonder. As in all preaching, this is not an excuse to preach from wounds that have not yet healed. It is an opportunity to walk with others in faith, in doubt, and in gratitude. If I am unable to preach about money because I am not an expert, I cannot expect others to feel comfortable diving into their own practices and questions around money as fellow non-experts. We are all beloved children of God. We all are enough.
I share this story because even for those of us often given microphones, pulpits, or any other external sign of authority, there can still be deep anxiety in preaching about money. Or maybe there is another topic that triggers your internal voices of doubt and anxiety. In naming our own vulnerabilities, we are able to move to questions that give life and support.
What do you need to enable yourself to preach the good news of stewardship?
For More Information:
The Rev. Anna V. Ostenso Moore is the Associate Priest for Family Ministry at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis and the author of the picture book “Today is a Baptism Day.” She delights in a good cup of tea with her husband, David, and dancing at all opportunities.