You (yes you) are a Steward

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You (Yes You) are a Steward 

Steward. The careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.

“You are a steward,” I spoke boldly into the auditorium of undergraduate students.

Something about my tone, direct eye contact and disposition made me more authoritative, and to be honest made my eyes widen to my own surprise. 

It was the first day of the semester, and my students were being greeted for the very first time. While undergraduate students yield a host of discomfort and nervousness, this day will always be etched in my mind. My words stuck to the timid hearts amongst my presence with surprise, self-doubt but yet, also a glimmer of hope and dare I say, excitement. 

After allowing them to shift nervously in their seats, I went on to explain what was meant by my bold proclamation. I shared that  being a steward, for all the complexities it entails, has a rather simple definition: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. Or, put even more simply, it’s what we do with what we have

“You already are stewards,” I insisted, “…but are you good ones?”


Here’s how that question changed my undergraduate students’ views on social responsibility, inclusion. 

We are all stewards. Stewardship isn’t reserved for an elite few but is found in everyone who has a heart beat. Boiled down to its most fundamental practice, stewardship requires us to be fully present and cognitive of what we do with what we have. It’s not about ‘buy-in’ or ‘ownership,’ it’s about the fundamental presupposition of human relationship and responsibility.

For many, our understanding of stewardship is formed by our families and community, developed over the course of our lifetime, often over generations. No matter where our understanding of stewardship comes from, the question I posed to my undergraduate students that day wasn’t to know if they understood themselves to be stewards, as we all are. The question posed was to offer the realization that we are all stewards, but are we any good at it?

It’s important for people to stop relegating stewardship to religion or outer sources and open to the reality that we are all stewards. Why? 

Because the longer we neglect our status as stewards the longer we will neglect our responsibility to positively impact the world around us. It’s about how we interact with, for example, people, places and perceptions. As long as we think we don’t have to be a steward, the longer we will let others define what our impact can be, missing out on the possibilities in seeing things differently. 

While my students were left to question their stewardship, they were also empowered to question the status quo. Using the four focus areas of deficit view, diversity erasure, normalization and rationalization their equity consciousness began to take new form. Where might they be ultimately sleep walking through the social constructs of life?


We cannot change something we do not take responsibility for, and connecting with our stewardship shifts our mindset to include the greater whole. 

This image is of the human brain with puzzle pieces representing deficit view, diversity erasure, normalization and rationalization surrounded by a circular image representing systems change.

Deficit view. For example, when we see others from different cultural groups, as deficient in ability to achieve just because of their cultural background, we believe there is an underlying deficiency from the dominant group. A sense of stewardship allows us to see things differently by recognizing the value in diversity. It’s not about trying to  conform others but rather recognizing and valuing their uniqueness.

Diversity erasure. Just because something isn’t acknowledged doesn’t mean it isn’t there. By de-emphasizing differences, we miss out on opportunities of innovation and human connectedness. To see things differently, embrace ambiguity. Steward your dissonance with courageous conversations to broaden your blind spots.

Normalization. Sensitivity trumps everything. What is meant by this is that our individual lens on the world is not the only way of seeing things. Being a steward requires recognizing our way isn’t the ‘only’ way. Memory develops not only in the moment of an experience but is also influenced through our histories giving us all unique perspectives on what is ‘normal’. Stewarding our experiences to be inclusive requires us to make room for other peoples’ stories.

Rationalization. When we adjust beliefs and desires to match concocted ones, it is always at the expense of another. Stewardship plays a key role in squelching a hierarchy of value by staying in check with our own personal goals and intentions. For example. I may never have the shortest run time in track and field but it doesn’t mean my good friend only has a fast time because of her ethnicity. I can steward my own running talents, or in my case lack there of, through personal goals while celebrating the goals of my friend as well. 

Back to my undergraduate students. Equity consciousness is about disturbing the habits and behaviors that do not serve an equitable nor inclusive view on universal learning and living. If you want to meaningfully alter your life and those within your sphere of influence, stewardship allows us to look inward while having the opportunity for positive external impact. Be equipped to share how you’ve moved toward a more equitable and inclusive way of learning and living through your take on stewardship. Share how experience in reflecting on your equity consciousness helps you see things differently – what you want to be free from, but also on what you are now free to become. 

It’s a game changer. There are several ways for you to be a part of the movement. Pick one, or two, or three, or all. You’ll be so glad you did. 

  • Share. Spread the word through Likes, shares, and following us on social media.
  • Reflect. Be a part of our research study by completing our Equity Consciousness® Teaser Test.
  • See it. Be it. Sign up for one of our pilot study discussion groups.
  • Network. Subscribe to our community so we can continue the conversation.

You can listen in on PodBean.

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