Stuck in the Kitchen
“Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.” – Matthew 20:26-27 (NRSV)
Before I had my own family – and a fixed address, a house, a dining room table – I was always a guest at someone else’s house for the holidays. Somebody else made all the invisible preparations, whatever they were, and all I had to do was show up and eat. I would sometimes feel a little sorry for whoever was stuck in the kitchen. But that feeling passed.
Then, one day, it started to be me who was stuck in the kitchen. I hated this. It made me feel like a servant. I could hear people talking and laughing in the other room – probably spilling things I’d have to clean up later.
I felt excluded and taken for granted: a martyr to everyone else’s good time.
But somehow, over the years, I gradually stopped feeling like a servant, even though I was still doing all the same things. No sermon or advice about responsibility from my elders would have worked this magic. It was only doing it, over and over again, year after year, that turned being a “servant” into something I didn’t mind being.
I think of this as a non-divine example, a humble illustration for the rest of us, of what Jesus meant about being a servant to be great. How can you be “first” and a “slave” at the same time, “great” and also a “servant”? I don’t know, but as usual, Jesus is right.
Dear God, help me question all my resentments and remember nobody likes a martyr. Amen.
Christina Villa contributed this devotional to How Can We Thank You? Let Us Count The Ways, a book of gratitude for those—in our churches and our lives—who support the work and ease the way. Order How Can We Thank You? here.