Last month, I wrote about starting a 1-year journey to figure out what I want. About discovering what it would take for me to show up in the world every day both happy and content. I couldn’t come up with a name for this series, but my wonderful Instagram followers gave me so many that I decided I’ll share a different one each month.
(Special thanks to Lashley for this month’s name.)
The Values Deck
I spent a lot of time this month thinking about my values, priorities, and goals. I decided that I couldn’t create daily disciplines without having the end in mind. Contentment is going to look different for everyone and part of this project is defining what it looks like for me.
Enter: The Values Deck.
My former boss (and the best one I ever had), Rebecca, created this deck of cards and I felt like it was the perfect way to kick off this year. Trav and I have been using it on date nights, just to spark conversations and keep things interesting. But there is an exercise Rebecca created to go alongside The Deck. It walks you through all 72 values and helps you pinpoint your top 6 to focus on in whatever season you’re in.
My 6 are pictured above. I could dive into all of them and what they mean to me, but there was one that really aligned with something that came up a lot for me this month. I wanna talk about that one: Stewardship. Buckle in because we’re gonna do some dictionary-ing.
The definition on the stewardship card is: acting wisely and responsibly with entrusted resources.
It’s those last two words that I’m hung up on.
Entrusted means to commit to another with confidence. Resources means a natural source of wealth. So if I believe that whatever I have (time, money, skills) was given to me with confidence (by God, by loved ones, by clients), then my job isn’t necessarily to wonder about why I have these things, but what I do with them.
In the past year, I’ve realized that I have a weird relationship with money. There, I said it. I feel guilty about making it, I’m stressed about having enough or too much of it, and I’m saddled with guilt about how and where I spend it.
Does it make me a bad person if I spend money on clothes that aren’t ethically made? On food that isn’t responsibly raised? On classes from someone whose beliefs don’t all align with mine? If every dollar I spend is a vote for the kind of world I want to live in, then I gots to watch all those dollars! See? It’s a weird relationship.
I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why I get to have certain things. I don’t think I’ll ever stop. It’s like a super guilty gratefulness that hangs around my neck and doesn’t allow me to actually enjoy the gifts in my life. I like justice. I like when things are fair. I like an even playing field. So when it feels like I come out on the winning side of this equation, I am paralyzed by the perceived injustice. (Gah, reading this back is total #FirstWorldProblems but before you judge me, are you reading this on your personal computer, your smartphone, or your tablet? Just checkin’.)
In order to affect change and make these good things count for something, I’m called to stewardship. I’m called to act wisely and responsibly with however much or little I have. So are you.
But stewardship can mean different things for different people. For me, in this season, it means I need to stop playing small with my resources. It means taking up space in the arenas that I’m an expert—publicly and in my client interactions. Cuz Jesus gave me smarts and it doesn’t help anyone when I don’t use them. It means giving my money when I feel called. Dinners out with friends and seemingly foolish amounts to causes I believe in. It means prioritizing other people’s needs over my wouldn’t-it-be-nice’s. Sometimes that means sacrificing time, sometimes that’s money. I’ve been entrusted and I just want to use it all wisely.
In Conclusion … (jk jk there is no end in sight)
I think stewardship came up as a core value for me this year because I have so many questions about it. I’m drawn to it because the meaning of it changes with each new season of my life. I’m in my 30’s now. I’m like a real adult with a real baby and a real business. I’ve been around long enough to feel lucky and to have noticed significant growth. So now that there is a history to look back on, I can see where I went wrong and course correct a little bit. I want to get to 42 and 52 and 62 and be really proud of how I spent my entrusted resources.
So far, I’ve worked hard and built a business to be proud of. But I never stopped to define why I’m working so hard. And that’s what this year is … I’m finally stopping to think about why I’m doing it. I don’t have answers yet, but the stopping and considering is nice.
I genuinely want to know: why do you work? What does stewardship means to you? How do you reconcile good gifts and blessings in your life with the lack in the rest of the world? Just some light Wednesday-evening questions. Comment, email me, send me a message on Instagram, I don’t care. I just want to hear from other people on this.
My Round-Up of #ContentmentCwest Resources
A life book I loved … Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book is about habits. Duh. But it gives you incredibly practical and easy-to-implement advice. I especially love his theory about habit stacking and assigning a time and a place to intentions. Intentions are good, but scheduled intentions are better. Practical things I’ve done: I now run every single Tuesday and Friday morning at 6:30 am with a friend. She meets me at my doorstep, we run for 30 minutes and we get iced coffee. I pay on Tuesdays, she pays on Fridays. It’s so specific because it works better that way.
A business book I liked … Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson. This is a really excellent book if you’re trying to sell a course or a product. He breaks down how to tell a story, not just why it’s important.
A memoir that made me sob … Becoming by Michelle Obama. Get the audiobook. She is an incredible storyteller. I cried, I laughed, I mmhmmmed. It took me completely by surprise. Also, 27-year-old Michelle and current me are wrestling with the same questions so it was a relief that the First Lady sought fulfillment and purpose too. We all just want to make a difference, right?
Two podcasts I loved … The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman (just, all of it) and this episode of Life Skills That Matter with Seth Godin.
P.S. That awesome Values Deck? I’m giving TWO of them away over on Instagram today! Tell all your friends. Seriously, tell ‘em. Everyone should have these.