An incredible amount of food is served in our church every week. We have some women who are absolutely gifted in the area of hospitality, and they spend hours and hours planning, shopping for, preparing, and serving truly delicious meals to people in our community. I so admire the way they know how much cheese to buy when they’re cooking for 200. I love the way they calmly set about the tasks that would have me trembling in a corner someplace. They are just so committed to the ministry of hospitality, and specifically, to cooking delicious food that will fill bellies and warm hearts.
And, then there’s me, the pastor’s wife. They know I’m no cook. They sneak food to my poor children as often as they can. I’m sure they fear that my family’s food pyramid would be anchored by nothing more than grilled cheeses from Sonic. They wouldn’t be that far off, actually.
The other day I was expressing to a friend how much I admire these women who are always thinking about how they can serve, always using their glorious cooking abilities to spread the love of Christ. She brought up a dear, wonderful woman who served the church for her whole life, a sweet lady who is already with Jesus, and whose impact is still very much felt and often talked about in our little town. My friend said, “I always remember her saying, ‘Just don’t put me in the kitchen.'” Instead, she taught Sunday school for decades. She shared the gospel with hundreds of children. She faithfully sent birthday cards to everyone in town. And, she also cooked. Yes, she did. But, cooking wasn’t where her passion was. It wasn’t where she felt God calling her to minister, not like the ladies that I so admire. Yet, here we are, years after her passing, and her legacy is still a topic of conversation day in and day out.
If ever there was an example of someone who faithfully served our Lord, it was her. And, she was no fan of being in the kitchen.
The non-cook in me rejoiced at getting this little revelation this week. Because we are always going to look at other Christians and their giftings and passions and wish that we were more like them. We will forever find ways to compare ourselves to those who are serving around us. We are tempted to covet the talents of others. But, the truth is that God doesn’t need everyone in the kitchen. We are each unique creations, and we have unique callings.
A few years ago, my closest friend and I had the privilege of serving at a church together. We started a Bible study for high school girls, and in the beginning we agreed that we would trade jobs every week: one week she would host the girls in her home and prepare the food while I would teach, and the next week I would host the girls and she would teach. It only took us a few weeks to realize that each time I was supposed to do the hosting, I struggled badly with the food prep. And, every time she was supposed to do the teaching, she struggled with her nerves. Teaching came naturally to me (although I maintain that she is an excellent teacher), while the hospitality and cooking were fun for her (and she is an amazing hostess). So, we decided that I would do the teaching each week and she would do the hosting. We both enjoyed the experience so much more once we accepted that God had gifted us differently, and that both of our unique giftings were needed in order to make this ministry endeavor all that it could be.
Today, in a Sunday school room in our church, there are photo albums filled with the kids that the precious kitchen-avoiding saint taught about Christ through many, many fruitful years of ministry. She didn’t need to be a master chef. She didn’t need to impress the children or her many friends and acquaintances with her culinary skills (although I suspect she probably could have). She was focused on living out her calling as she saw it. And, because of her faithfulness and her wisdom in not striving to be named the best at everything, she kept out of the kitchen and kept pointing little souls to Jesus. She knew that in this race that we are running, we run side by side, not in competition with one another. I’m thankful for her example, and for the reminder that God knows who needs to be doing which jobs. All we have to do is stop trying to compete with our fellow laborers so that we can flourish in our unique callings.