Good stewardship acting for others, not self

Judy Brandon

I wrote about Auntie Mille several years ago. A reader request has prompted me to tell about her once again. I found out about her from one of my students who her great niece.

Auntie Mille was a single mother who worked to stretch her meager income. It was the late fifties in south Louisiana. A mother was killed unexpectedly in a car accident, leaving her five boys and three girls motherless.

Her sister, Auntie Mille, took the children to raise them as her own. As a black woman in south Louisiana in the fifties, life for Auntie Mille was not always easy.

Her modest home was a reflection of her meager income. It would have been quite a commitment for anyone, much less a woman with little means. She had to stretch her few resources to be fair to all the children.

An unexpected surprise came when an insurance company notified her that her sister had a life insurance policy. So the small amount of money was given to Auntie Mille, now the children’s legal guardian.

She collected the money. Now think about it: What would most people do with that money if they had taken in eight children? Some might think: “Well this house is too small and with eight — we’ll add two more bedrooms and another bath.”

Another might say: “Someone has to feed them and you don’t expect me to feed them on my income!”

Still others might rationalize: “Clothes don’t come free — I will use the money to buy clothes.”

But Auntie Mille made none of those excuses. She collected the insurance money and invested it. With no knowledge of portfolios or money markets, Aunt Mille’s investment accumulated interest and grew over the years.

They shared bedrooms, couches or mattresses when it came bedtime and passed down dresses and pants from child to child. Shoes were resoled with cardboard. Auntie Mille feed them, kept them in school and each Sunday the crew took up an entire pew in church.

One day the first boy of the eight children graduated from high school. When he married later, Auntie Mille handed him an envelope. “Here is a little money to help you get started,” she said.

The young man thought it might be a small cash gift and appreciated Auntie Mille’s thoughtfulness. He took the envelope and opened it. Inside was a bank book and on the account balance line was written: Balance — $20,000.

Then when each child, including her own, left home she gave each child $20,000.

Auntie Mille could have easily spent the money to make her life easier. Yet, she was a good steward and she handled the money wisely and fairly. As a result, a gift from the mother the children barely knew made a difference in their lives years later.

What does God require of us? He requires that we do the right thing.

Micah wrote: “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

By taking in the children, she showed mercy. By not touching the insurance money for herself, she acted justly. Her faith in God helped her raise a family in difficult times — she walked humbly with Him.

Auntie Mille will never win an Oscar, make the headlines of any major newspaper and will never be Woman of the Year in Time magazine. But what will stand the test of time … best supporting actress in a Hollywood film or best supporting actress in real life?

Auntie Mille’s award will be recognized … center stage in eternity. Only eternity will reveal the accolades that await her.