I had a check in my spirit from the first time I was introduced to the “kitchen” teaching. It was introduced to me when I began my assent in ministry servant leadership sort of as a heads up of what happens in the behind the scenes. Basically the teaching compares the inner working of a ministry to what happens in the kitchen at a busy restaurant where the tension is high, food is flung, toes are stepped on…all overlooked when the result is a beautifully served meal, worth all of the drama as the unsuspecting customer goes away well fed and watered. I had the dvd at home on my desk but was never moved to watch it until I found myself poised to step into the kitchen. I figured it was time to watch it and as I did I was not impressed. In fact my response was HUH? I shelved the thought only to be reminded of it from time to time as newbies were being groomed. Again, my spirit would be checked time after time. Truthfully, I felt that all that kitchen talk was simply justification for poor behavior.
I had a conversation with a former staffer of a church who also held the same behind the scenes views and my “check” was confirmed when this person shared how they found it difficult to transition from a behind the scenes “server” to “well fed and watered customer” after having been behind the scenes and privy to the “kitchen.” That stuck with me and again that teaching checked me.
I love “kitchen” shows. There’s Top Chef/Top Chef Masters (my two favorites) and there are a host of others, one of which bears the name, “Hell’s Kitchen” which I’ve never seen, whose name pretty much proves my next point. In watching Top Chef I have observed the behavior of the participants to be rude, obnoxious, unhelpful, competitive, cliquish, divisive, bullying and a host of other such adjectives. This is typical kitchen behavior which is considered the norm and to some quite entertaining. The more I heard of the “kitchen” teaching and then watched these shows, the more I realized that was a teaching which I know hurts the heart of the Father because that behavior should not be behavior His children partake in…period.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident which are:…idolatry, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy… But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Galatians 5:19-23
I’ve observed restaurant behavior…the servers running around hurriedly, stressed out, never able to engage with the people they are serving. Afraid to make mistakes and going to great lengths to cover those made, always fearing the consequences of their mistake and never quite pleasing those they serve. I always appreciate the waiter who lingers at our table and I have found that the tip is always a little more generous for that person. I’ve also seen the chef in action… sweaty and rushed, irritated and sometimes barking at his staff. There’s a lot of stress in the kitchen.
The last thing I’ve noticed is how unattractive a messy kitchen is..folks getting burned, slipping on the dirt…getting caught themselves in traps set for intruders. If we walked into half the kitchens that served us, I doubt we’d ever return. Is it worth it to go through all of the drama in order to serve up a great meal? Who cleans the kitchen? Does it ever get really clean? Customers aren’t blind. They catch glimpses of the kitchen, notice when their favorite servers are missing, have conversations with those who are left behind…those disgruntled servers.
When I finally asked the question, “Lord, where in the Word is this acceptable ministry behavior?” He pointed me to Martha and Mary. The only place I’ve encountered any talk close to “kitchen” talk was when Jesus corrected Martha for being “worried and upset over details,” pointing out that Mary had “discovered the one thing about which to be concerned.”
The answer to all of this? He would love it if we would clean the kitchen, maintain the kitchen’s cleanliness, make repairs quickly and do maintenance checks to avoid major breakdowns/failures. I suspect that there are also sharp knives in this clean kitchen, but they are used as intended and SAFELY stored away.
“Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day. Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job. A God blessed man or woman, I tell you. It won’t be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation. “Matthew 24:45-47 MSG