I grew up watching my dad cook. On Saturday afternoons during college football season, he would ask me, “Are you hungry?” He knew my answer, but he always asked me that.
He would then proceed into the kitchen and create a masterpiece with whatever leftovers were in the fridge from the previous week’s meals. It didn’t matter what was available, my dad knew how to create a scrumptious meal fit for a teenage boy with an unending appetite. And with our eyes fixed on ABC TV’s “Game of the Week,” we ate to our hearts’ content, cheering and booing between bites.
Dad’s second job was always a short-order cook in kitchens around town – the local country club, the Elks’ Lodge and various other restaurants. He is in a zone when he’s cooking; gliding effortlessly between fridge, stove and pantry; tasting, adding a pinch more salt; whisking flour, slicing onions, adjusting heat, wiping down counter. He’s not just cooking; he’s on a stage, performing, and you are his audience.
Before you know it, he has a plate in front of you. “Whaddya think?” he asks. Before you can answer, he interjects, “Good, huh?”
Of course, it’s good. It’s very good. The kind of good that makes you clap your hands and say, “Amen.” My usual answer is filled with lots of “mmms” all running together. You know the kind of taste that makes you close your eyes for a split second. You feel your taste buds smile.
Every time I’m in the kitchen – every time – and I attempt to cook something, I think of my dad, and I want whatever I fix for someone to have the same taste and effect that his food had on me. Right there in our home kitchen, my dad was the first servant leader I ever knew. I want to serve others well because he first served me.
Jesus had a lot to say about serving others. In fact, He said that’s the reason He took on flesh: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus’ picture of serving ultimately involved laying His life down on our behalf.
What if we took on the role of servant more in our daily lives? What difference would that make on others?