W. Keith Warner and Edward L. Kimball: Creative Stewardship

In 1969 to 1971, my father, Edward L. Kimball, was on the editorial board for a short-lived periodical: The Carpenter: Reflections of MormonLife. In the fourth and final Spring 1971 issue, he coauthored with Keith Warner the article “Creative Stewardship.” I read that article only recently (December 8, 2014). I like the message. Here is an excerpt I made, with a broad audience in mind. (He was 40 at the time, considerably younger than my current age of 54!) 

Responsibility for Accomplishment

In the Sermon on the Mount Christ said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20) This test, by which Christ said men may legitimately be judged, is the test of results, not of intentions.

Many of us comfort ourselves in thinking that if our purposes are right we may be excused if they go awry.

… yet the standard He offers by which we may be judged is that we bring forth good fruit. We are responsible, therefore, for effects and not merely for effort, for accomplishment and not merely activity. …

Elder Hugh B. Brown put the principle another way: “The harvest, and not the master, will accuse the slothful servant.” (Eternal Quest, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956, p. 430.)

We are familiar with the need to distinguish between faith and works: “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26) But we often take works to mean activity rather than accomplishment, and in that sense works without results are also dead.

Our concern must be not only with the letter, but also the spirit; not only with the work, but also the fruits of the harvest. Our obligation is not merely to try, but to help the cause succeed. We can have obtained some personal growth by making an effort, even though our efforts are otherwise unfruitful, but for the sake of our community as well as ourselves we must also be effective in the long run. 

Responsibility for Initiative

… It is not unusual for us to acknowledge full responsibility for our own lives and major responsibility for the welfare of our own families and small groups of associates, but when we move beyond these to communities the size of our ward or town, and to the state or nation, most of us begin to feel that we are out of our depth, and that the problems are to be solved by someone else: the leaders, the system—somebody, but not us.

… Each must take responsibility for taking action, whether in the leadership roles to which he may have been called, or in his capacity as helpful follower, or as individual upon whom ultimate responsibility falls to be a creative steward …