Fruitful and faithful management perhaps best sums up what we mean when we talk about stewardship. In other words, a responsible steward is a fruitfully faithful and faithfully fruitful manager of resources. Time, finances, gifts, work, assets, education, and so forth. But we have found that most of our clients do not think of relationships with their spouses, children, employees, co-workers, co-religionists, communities, and so on, as resources or “things” to be stewarded. When they reflect upon it, however, they realize that their relationships are the most treasured things in their lives and most often what motivates them most deeply to be good financial stewards. By cultivating such a relational consciousness, our clients learn that stewardship is an ethic, or life practice, that embodies the responsible planning and management of all resources in life, including the most important resource dimension: their human relationships.

Stewardship is primarilyrelational, not financial.

Americans define the good life in many ways. Perhaps the most commonly heard definition is the “American Dream.” Since World War II, this Dream has evolved along economic and financial lines that have diverged remarkably from the original conception of the Dream as articulated by James Truslow Adams in 1931: "’life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement’ regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.”Life in 1931 was defined in terms of “opportunity.” Today, it is defined by most Americans in terms of financial comfort and security. Daily media output, the realities of American culture and society, and the rhythms of political discourse bear this truth out. And so, when it comes to financial planning and financial planners in the 21st Century, the focus tends to be primarily financial, not relational. But at BRS we approach life management, or stewardship, of resources by subordinating financial and wealth issues to relational considerations, interests, and goals.

Relationships are primary. Money and wealthare secondary. Financial interests serve relationships.

Our clients find this approach both refreshing and liberating. Most have had financial advisors for years, but the common refrain we hear is, “Wow, I’ve never heard this before. This puts financial planning in an entirely new light.” Our clients find themselves enjoying the good life with a growing relational consciousness and motivation focused on others, not money. A life driven by the joy found in giving, rather than getting. A life fueled by the joy discovered in dispossession and donation, rather than possessing and receiving. That’s why we like to say we help our clients begin with the end in mind: “Be a generous steward and leave a lasting legacy.” (This is the last, the "end game" so to speak, of our five principles of responsible stewardship.) Applying it helps displace the temporal pursuits of happiness found in the acquisition of money and things.

Put your relationships first