How to pray in the midst of your kitchen duty
Have you ever imagined doing great things for God? ?I have. And if you're
like me, sometimes God's idea and my idea of "great things" don't agree. That
changed, however, one summer when I was assigned the job of teaching in a
mission Vacation Bible School at a non-English speaking church. That's when I
really began to understand the meaning-and the importance-of "kitchen
Many would chafe under the assignment of "kitchen duty." Their ideas and
aspirations of doing great things for God would definitely not include
something like waiting tables or distributing food to some complaining, jealous
women. Can you hear their protests? "I was made for better things!" "What am I
doing in this hot, smelly kitchen?"
But not Stephen. The book of Acts describes Stephen as a man "full of God's
grace and power" (Acts 6:8). The new church in Antioch had chosen some
spirit-filled men to minister to the widows of their church. Their appointed
duties would free the apostles to accomplish their work of preaching and
teaching of the Word. Stephen was one of those men assigned to "kitchen
Oswald Chambers says this about kitchen duty. But he calls it
Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our
character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as
ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when
we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether
or not we are spiritually genuine.
Yikes! I was about to be tested for spiritual genuineness. My vision of
great things for God? I could hardly wait to be a part of this team of 24
mission volunteers fanning out over a large city, knocking on doors, sharing
our faith, hopefully winning the lost to Christ. But a few weeks before our
trip I discovered our "great things" included some kitchen duty as well: VBS. I
immediately argued with God.
Some wouldn't understand my hesitation to lead Vacation Bible School
classes. I didn't either. After all, I invited Jesus into my heart years ago in
a Vacation Bible School. For many summers I scrubbed remnants of hot glue,
crayons and punch stains from fingernails and clothes with the best of them.
But I spent the last two decades teaching only women and couples, and my
children were grown. Could I still relate to children?
I finally submitted to God with a "whatever-you-want-I'll-do"
prayer-especially when I discovered we would only be filling one hour: just
tell a Bible story and lead a few songs. How hard was that?
But I had forgotten the rest of Chambers' words: "...The inspiration of God
is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some
cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy
forever... When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms
I knew I hadn't taken this to heart when it really came to living it out in
the field. In fact, when we arrived and were told the VBS would last twice as
long as originally planned. I slept little that night. And for the first three
mornings, I struggled, trying to fill time until lunch. I was failing my
kitchen duty. "God," I prayed. "I need both inspiration-and a
I remembered Stephen's obedient spirit. Soon after he accepted his kitchen
assignment, Scripture records Stephen doing great wonders and signs among
the people (Acts 6:8). He experienced tremendous opposition as he
testified to his faith and shared the gospel with unbelieving hearers. But
Stephen's words-and his joyful, angelic face-revealed the secret of his holy
boldness: when God's Spirit consumes us, we are like actors playing out our
divinely-assigned part in heaven's dramatic history. I suspect much of that joy
and power grew out of Stephen's willing "kitchen duty."
God answered my prayer, but not like I'd expected. Later that night I
tripped on a piece of broken concrete and ended up in an emergency room with a
swollen ankle. "Pray for me," I cried to my husband, my face hot with tears. "I
don't want to miss VBS tomorrow." I had planned a special object lesson to show
the children-one that would express salvation in a simple, but powerful way. I
had even asked the mission pastor to follow-up the lesson with further
The next morning the ankle swelling was gone, but a new stomach problem
persisted. Physically spent, I shared with the children the best I could, then
sat down, bowed my head and elevated my foot. The pastor of the small mission
shared some words. Then I heard movement. I looked quizzically at my
interpreter. Three rows of children had moved to the front of the tiny church
building. What was happening?
"Those are the children who want to trust Jesus," mouthed the interpreter.
Seventeen children had said, "Yes," to Jesus that day.
"Kitchen duty" means different things to people. For some of us, it might
mean working in a soup kitchen in New Orleans or cleaning out mold in a
pastor's home in South Dakota, like a group from our church did one year.
Whether it includes bathing HIV babies, digging a trench, cleaning
roach-infested rooms, or visiting the terminally ill, God always has great
purposes in mind.
He gives us special assignments on and off the mission field, because in
reality, we're always on mission for Him, wherever we live or serve. The young
mother with four preschoolers may equate kitchen duty with changing a hundred
diapers in one week.
In her book God's Whisper in a Mother's Chaos, Keri Wyatt Kent
writes "Spiritual growth and transformation are possible even during the years
you are parenting preschoolers. In fact, these years…in all of their messy
fullness, can be agonizingly difficult but amazingly fruitful spiritually."3
She goes on to explain that God is developing the fruits of the Spirit in our
lives during that time.
To another, kitchen duty means working at a minimum wage job with no promise
of promotion. Still another tries to teach school kids that have forgotten how
to learn or show respect. Someone else willingly stuffs envelopes in a church
God doesn't call us to be Super-Parents or Super-Mission Volunteers. But when
we're willing, regardless of our individual assignments, God is building
character, and we're doing the "greater work" when we minister joyfully to the
least of these in our assigned kitchen duty. The results are up to Him. In
time, your work can be a powerful testimony to those around you or to the ones
When God captures our hearts and we understand his greater purpose in our
lives, the most ordinary drudgery will not repel us. It will actually enhance
our enjoyment of this powerful God of Kitchen Duty.
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