The Unwilling Steward

The Unwilling Steward

Ted looked at the bright new fifty-cent piece in his hands, and then smiled up at his father.

"Thanks for the allowance, Dad!"

"You've earned it, son," his father answered. "And by the way, don't forget to keep out your tenth for church."

A frown wrinkled Ted's forehead.

"Do I have to, Dad? If I keep on taking out a whole nickel every week, I'll never save enough for that catcher's mitt! Besides, Steve's father gives him extra money for church. He doesn't have to take it out of his allowance."

"Listen, son," Ted's father replied patiently. "We've talked about  this before, remember? And we agreed that the whole idea of having an allowance in the first place was to learn how to use it—how to be a good steward."

"I know," Ted responded a bit gloomily. "But I don't see why boys like me have to be stewards. It's different with grown-up men. They're supposed to know how to use money, and besides, they have a lot more of it to start with. After all, when a fellow's just got fifty cents a week—"

"We have to prove we can be good stewards in little things before we're ready to tackle the big ones, son,' his father replied. "You know, there's a verse in the Bible that says, 'Moreover, it is required of a steward that a man be found faithful.' It doesn't say faithful in big things —just faithful. So if you're faithful in putting aside that nickel every week—"

"All right, Dad," Ted sighed, as he slipped the money into his pocket. "I guess I'm a sort of unwilling steward."

Just then Ted's mother appeared in the doorway, all breathless and excited. "Ted, Mrs. Burton just phoned that she's been called to the hospital—her sister was in an accident—and Mr. Burton's out of town. She's already put Binky to bed, and there's no one to stay in the house. I can't go and leave Carol and Sue, and your father has a trustee's meeting at the church. So, Ted, you won't mind running over there for a while, will you?"

"Me—a baby-sitter?" Ted groaned. "What would Steve and the other fellows say if they ever knew I was out baby-sitting?"

"But this is an emergency, Ted," his mother argued.

"Of course Ted will help out," his father interrupted. "I'll drop him off on my way to church, and pick him up when the meeting's over. By that time Mrs. Burton should be home."

Ted followed his father out, pausing just long enough to say to his mother, "Promise you won't tell Steve!"

At the Burton's, Ted and his dad found their neighbor waiting at the door.

"Binky's fast asleep," she explained. "You can read or watch tele­vision or do whatever you like, Ted. I'll be back just as soon as I pos­sibly can. I can't ever thank you enough for coming!"

Mrs. Barton flashed Ted a grateful smile and dashed out to her own car that stood waiting in the driveway.

"Good luck, Ted!" said his father, as he placed a reassuring hand on the boy's shoulder. "I'll be back in an hour or so."

"Sure thing, Dad. I'll manage," Ted answered, already feeling a little happier about his job. "See you later!"

Ted reached for a book on the library table. "Well, what do you know?" he grinned. "A dictionary! Exciting reading, that! But maybe I could look up that word 'steward' and see what old man Webster has to say about it.

"Here it is—'steward'—a supervisor, or manager. Mmm—that makes me a kind of steward tonight, I guess. After all, I'm the manager while Mrs. Burton's gone—supervising the house, and Binky and all. I'm a steward, that's what! A steward is much more dignified than a baby-sitter."

Suddenly Ted straightened up in his chair. Something was burning! He ran out into the kitchen. There was smoke puffing up the basement stairs. Ted reached for the light switch and made his way down the stairs. Mrs. Burton had left the iron plugged in, and the thick pad that covered the board was smoldering. Ted caught up a piece of clothing to protect his hands, yanked out the electric cord, and dashed to the laundry tubs. Several good dousings with cold water put out the slow flames, but what a mess the basement was! There was the floor to mop, the windows to open, then the first floor to air out. In the midst of all the work and confusion, Mrs. Burton returned.

"Ted!" she exclaimed. "Whatever is the matter? Is Binky all right?"

"Oh, yes," Ted answered comfortably. Ted was doing his best to reassure her when the doorbell rang and his father came in.

A short while later, when the Burton household was calm once more, Ted and his dad started home.

"You know, son," his father confided, "I'm proud of you."

"I was just being a good steward," Ted explained. "Oh, yes, and that reminds me, Dad, can you change fifty cents so I can get a nickel out for church?" He reached in his pocket and pulled out the shiny half dollar.

Somehow the catcher's mitt didn't seem too important now. Of course, he still wanted it, but it could wait a while. Ted knew that if he could be a good steward in one thing, like taking care of another person's property, he could be a good steward in others, too—things like giving back to God a part of what God had given him.

But what Ted did not know was this: Mrs. Burton was already on the telephone talking to his mother.

"I want to give Ted something to show my appreciation for what he did for me tonight," Mrs. Burton was saying. "Do you think he would like some baseball equipment, something like a catcher's mitt, for instance?"—Adapted from a story by Mary Peacock, in Juniors.

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