Sunday, December 2, 2012


There were five us in the room, consisting of me and them. Even though I had known these men for several years, some as colleagues, one as a teacher and even one I considered a close personal friend with whom I had shared parallels in our careers.

We quickly passed over a review of my dissertation as it became obvious that there was a gulf between the knowledge on the subject I had gained as a result of the extensive research I had been doing and the limited acquaintance they had from the brief perusal they had given my writings. Then THE QUESTION came! It was obvious that in their pre-oral examine consultation with each other they had decided that this would be what would determine my passing or failing the defense of my dissertation and the class work with which I had been involved over the past years.

I had prepared myself for THE QUESTION by becoming acquainted with the literature of the day on the subject and I was also well aware of the prejudices on both sides of the issue. It was that type of question that the Savior was so adept at turning back to the questioners. I well knew that no matter which side of THE QUESTION I would chose, it would lead to me having to defend it at length and I would be facing 5/1 odds as the outcome of my defense was being determined.

THE QUESTION – “Is the relationship which parents have to their children one of ownership?”

For most parents this issue doesn't cause major disturbances, it only causes occasional conflicts and adjustments as we work with schools and governments to resolve problems which our children might have as they maneuver through the ‘systems’ during their maturation processes. I knew well that the educational hierarchy looked dimly on any philosophies which would condone the parent/child relationship as one of owner and owned. I knew that governmental organizations feel that they are the ultimate determiners of the rights of those they have been elected to serve. It only takes the complaint of one neighbor to put in question the parent/child relationship. It only takes one testimony to put someone’s life into turmoil.

Gratefully, THE ANSWER to THE QUESTION which quietly squeaked from my timid lips was: this relationship isn't a matter of ownership, but one of stewardship. I was then given the opportunity, without opposition, to expand on the principle of stewardship relationships. As I slipped into my comfort zone of being the teacher in the group, the grilling subsided and when I had finished explaining what I meant by the term stewardship relationships, the grilling ceased and we spent the rest of the oral examination time chatting as colleagues and friends. In a very interesting way the temperament in the room had changed from a debate between them vs. me, to a conversation between us.

To me the Savior has left little doubt that a great deal of what we will become and be accountable for while in this probationary state can be determined by an examination of the faithfulness and fulfillment of our stewardship relationships.

In the 12th and 16th chapters of his book, Luke records the Savior’s thoughts on stewards and their stewardships.

The Savior’s greatest condemnation falls on the unfaithful steward who deliberately puts added, demeaning and cumbersome burdens on those he has been called to serve. He serves justly while the Master is present, but in his absence the unfaithful steward’s true nature comes forth. He becomes tyrannical in his relationships and deliberately goes against the counsel and commands of his Lord. The Master adamantly condemns this steward and his activities.

The Savior is almost equally condemning of the unprepared steward. This steward seems to know what is required, but fails because of inadequate and insufficient preparation. This steward failure comes not from wavering effort, but from being unprepared. Those who fall under his stewardship fail to accomplish their goals because they walk in the dark and neither knowing where to go nor what to do.

The ignorant steward finds some comfort but still must suffer the stings of the Master’s stripes, excused for not knowing. We are not told why this steward is ignorant of his duties, but those he has stewardship over have suffered because of his inadequacies. Evidently the Savior felt his ignorance could have been overcome through some personal diligence.

Only the wise steward, who has labored to be prepared and is constant and faithful in fulfilling his stewardship according to the counsel of the Master, finds himself acceptable.

There was another occasion later in life when Kathleen and I sat in a small room with someone who was making an evaluation on us which would impact the rest of our lives in ways we could not even imagine at the time. Again came A QUESTION!! This question did not come from a grilling, career determining panel, but came from a wise steward who was trying to know our capabilities to take on a stewardship of monumental responsibilities.

A QUESTION – “If I were to interview your children what kind of stewards would they say their parents are?

Our mumbled humble responses must have been somewhat adequate, because not too many days later we received our call to serve in a wondrous new land which led to opportunities to grow as stewards in a different vineyard.

We are children of divinity. We should reverence and be grateful for being part of the ultimate purpose of God’s work and glory. This understanding should be life altering and determine how we handle stewardship relationships.

We have within us the embryonic attributes of Deity. We should strive to maximize the potential gifted to us through our Eternal Parents. Our stewardship relationships may be the very foundation upon which we build our eternal existence.

Every one of us is greater and more powerful than we realize. All we need to do is call the power forth through the faithful learning and administration of our stewardships.

When the Savior declared we had been created a little lower than the angels, He was not only declaring our greatness because of our Eternal birthright, but also because of the potential of what we can become. Although we will in no way be finished when we leave this frail mortal existence, we have the responsibility to become all we can become while we are witnessing allotted sunrises and sunsets.

The Lord has given us sufficient direction to aid us in fulfilling the potential of our mortal stewardships. We should search with daily diligence to gain a greater understanding of His everlasting counsel.

The type of steward we become will largely be determined by our faithful learning and then acting as He has directed. Since the Master’s presence in our present state is glimpsed through a glass darkly, our stewardship faithfulness will be judged by how diligently we abide by His counsel during what we perceive to be His absence.

Through being faithful stewards we not only serve our fellow sojourners, we also gain enlightenment as we daily add to the discovery of the eternal us. There is indeed a large degree or majestic-ness in the formula whereby we find ourselves by losing ourselves in the service of others as we limp forward in our stewardship relationships.


  1. Es interesante que Jesús critico la inactividad que los líderes religiosos de su tiempo procuraron imponer sobre el sábado, y afirmo: «Mi Padre hasta ahora trabaja, y yo trabajo» ( Juan 5:17). Por supuesto, se refiere al trabajo redentor que es posible hacer en sábado, y no al tipo de labores diarias que solemos llevar a cabo durante los otros días de la semana ( Mateo 12:7).La idea divina del descanso nos libera de nosotros mismos y de nuestras preocupaciones, para que podamos disfrutar de tiempo y espacio para otras actividades. Jesús dijo que el sábado es el día ideal para ser una bendición para otros ( versículo 9:14). Es un dia para dedicarse a actividades en las que Dios y los seres humanos - esas criaturas que formo. Del polvo de la tierra- se encuentran. Es una celebración de la relación entre Dios y la humanidad , los miembros de la familia y nuestros vínculos con toda la creación. El sábado es un eco que nos remite al Edén. Es la manera que tiene Dios de decirnos que quiere tener una relación cercana con nosotros, porque somos para el mas importantes que todas las demás cosas creadas”.

    Jean Paul Terceo

  2. Beautifully said! Also has an influence on what to ask for when crisis arrives regarding the Stewardship of the Saviour. Comes to mind as Pat has been diagnosed with a "renal cell carcinoma" and goes into the Dixie regional medical center on Tues the 4th for a "radical nephrectomy" to remove the right kidney and a large tumor the size of half a cantalope. What are the prayers and blessings needed in these occasions knowing that Father knows best?

    Larry Proffit

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I usually don't comment, sometimes I send them to one of my children if it applies, but maybe you would like comments. My greatest regret is that I wasn't a good enough parent, leader, lead me guide me, walk beside me parent. I thought I was doing well taking them to church, having family home evening, teaching them good things, being a good example, but I think because I didn't know the doctrine, unprepared, or because I didn't have close enough friends and use them more for help or a resource and tried to do things on my own, I had a difficult time with teenagers and two out of our five are not going to church. I know they see the benefits but choose to try a path without religion. I feel a bit betrayed because wasn't I suppose to have the Holy Ghost with me to tell me all I should do? Maybe he did and I just didn't understand or listen. I take full responsibility and realize I just didn't do enough because I didn't have a great knowledge of the gospel and the confidence it give you. I never thought of the parable of the steward as being myself as a parent and it is good food for thought. I will read through this again.

    Sue Baldini

  4. You always manage to lift us!! And with great understanding as your "limp along" phrase indicates. Don and I are so humbled at the experience with which we have been blessed, to house missionaries. We can not imagine being responsible for the hundreds Mission Presidents and their wives serve. What faithfulness and love , and courage that must take. Thanks again for your examples.

    Jean Seavey

  5. Thank you, Bill, for including me on your mailing list. I really do enjoy your writings although I don't respond to each one. I particularly enjoyed your insights about steward relationships. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Jack Rushton

  6. Querido hermano: Le saludo y agradezco sus mensajes que me han dado razones para vislumbrar mientras voy arando en este estado terrenal, que lo que creemos importante es simplemente baratija que en nada se aprovecha al otro lado del velo. Es triste como nos desgastamos tanto en la búsqueda de lo Teleste, que no tenemos fuerzas para lo de valor.


    Hermano Luis Enrique Pérez

  7. Dear Brother Riley,

    I cannot recall when someone's message was more poignant or perfectly tailored to me. Thanks so much for your insights about stewardship.

    Just recently I felt called upon to play my role as steward to an adult daughter. I did not want to come across as holier than thou, but neither could I ignore her actions that I found offensive toward me. I found it difficult to express my heartl-felt concerns, and I do not know if she understands my concerns. I fear I used to think that stewardship only applied to minor children. But just as Heavenly Father keeps shaping us, forgiving us, and loving us, I hope and pray that I can do these actions too with my children. With great messages such as yours it makes it easier for me to be a mother.

    May the holidays treat you and your loved ones perfectly.

    Con amor,

    Bonnie Lynn

  8. Loved it. Thank you for being part of my life. Your thoughts are always good thoughts!!!

    Merry Christmas, Feliz Natal --

    Debi Woffinden

  9. Thank you for these thoughts! Dave and I are having difficulty raising our 3 year old, and this message helped remind us to be more prepared stewards.

    Xoxo Stephanie Hennings

  10. My Dear Friend Bill, I so enjoyed your writing this week. You never cease to amaze me with your intelligence. I like the way you make a statement, that eventually leads to questions and discussions, and then you very gingerly pull it all together and tie it up with a lovely ribbon and bow,. as you make your final successful statement. I would love to have been a small butterfly fluttering about watching in on your dissertation! What a thrill after you relaxed! Now, I just can't wait to read what you write for the Sunday before Christmas! I guess that's pretty selfish of me, but keep in mind I'm not the only admirerer you have out here!

    From your photos, your trip to accompany your grandson home from his mission was fantastic! How many of them have served a mission now? You must be so proud of all your future Missionaries. The photos of your family were all so full of love and fun in their faces. I can't think of anything that I love and enjoy more than my children and their children!! We are truly blessed aren't we Bill ? !

    Write me when you care to and I'll look forward to it.
    Your forever friend,


  11. Today is my birthday, I have been pondering my stewardship of my children as each one has called or texted. I am truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to share my life with these outstanding souls. I believe that the stewardship has gone both ways as they have taught me so much more than I have imparted to them. Thank you Bill for your thoughts, my day is full.

    Marilyn Young

  12. "become all we can become" Riley
    "the straw that broke the camel's back" Anon

    Paulett Maddox

  13. Excelente mensaje presidente Riley lo compartirè en el Quòrum de los Maestros para su actividad...

    Muchas gracias.

    Roberto Guzman

  14. It came from me, Paul, of course. I was signed onto Paulette's account doing maintenance for her on her computer, and removed Paulette's signature when I sent the note, but my ever so clever email system corrected what it supposed was an error of omission and replaced the signature when I pressed send. Sorry for the confusion. I supposed you'd know Paulette wouldn't send such an ambiguous note.

    More about the note:
    One often although striving to do one's best upon reflection could always have done just a little more, a little better. And the dedicated soul seeks a way to do better. This is good and praiseworthy. Perhaps I should end here. :)

    Sometimes though this effort can misfire in one way or another. As I said earlier, life yin and yangs us about somewhat awesomely if not awfully. Best that we keep vigilantly aware that sin and shortcoming is our nature as we seek our betterment, because an overzealous person is just that, over-zealous. And quite often there are unintended consequences of "overness" of any kind?

    First, a too diligent focus that is ostensibly on others may creep like gangrene to make us over concerned with ourselves, our progress, our way of perceiving, attending, worshiping. Then as we focus on giving without judging, we may by that very effort invoke that human instinct to judge, much like concentrating on not overeating or doing any other "sin" whets the appetite for that thing denied.

    Our determination to excel at goodness, it's achievement, requires intense self awareness. That can be beneficial up to a point. The yang is that no matter how much we attempt to focus both outward and inward, the effort can pose a dilemma, a moral hazard of a sort.
    Take time to pray every day. Pray without ceasing. "Ah, there's the rub!" That's good, right? But how is it to be done? Is it an art? Is it a science? Is it a matter of following the guidelines? Are the instructions clear: 1,2,3. What does it mean and how is it to be done? How is the heart to be opened to God without us attempting our own misemployed self analysis and repair?

    Just one more good deed, generous act, thought, prayer, (note the outward, other directed focus), and I'll be a little better.

    So the point of the camel is that there may be a point at which one must admit to oneself that to attempt more would perhaps be to achieve less.

    Then again, what do I know?

    Paul Maddox

  15. This is a masterpiece!!! Well written!!! I appreciate the manner in which you shared your experiences in being interviewed, and I came to realize the importance of being in tune to receive inspiration at a moment's notice!

    I'm saving this "THOUGHTS" as I see the value of having it at my fingertips to refer to when (and if) I'm asked to give a talk (or lesson) on STEWARDSHIP.

    Thank you for sharing!!!

    Love, Carla Johnson