I can’t cook. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. I have no idea how to cook.
The Lord blessed me with a wife who is a fantastic cook. She grew up in a family where the kitchen and dinner table was a central part of their lives. In our first year of marriage, I probably gained 20 pounds, and that’s a testament to her food. If it were up to me, we would starve.
With that being said, I must say that children can sometimes catch you off guard with their genius insight. When I went downstairs this morning for breakfast, I saw a pan on the stove with bologna in it (we live in the South). Without warning, my 6-year-old son started asking me questions (and this is as close to quoting the conversation as I can remember).
“Dad, do you know how to fry bologna?”
“Sure, son. Just put it in a pan on the stove. It kind of fries itself.”
“Do you know how to toast bread?”
“Um…yes. I put it in the toaster.”
“Do you know how to make cereal with milk.”
“Yes, son. Why?”
“See, Dad. You know how to cook.”
I kind of rolled my eyes and went on with getting ready. I had told my kids so many times in the past that I didn’t know how to cook that my son was trying to make me feel better. But I kept replaying that conversation in my head for the next couple of minutes. Then it finally hit me. He was right. I may not be a gourmet chef, but we wouldn’t starve if food preparation was up to me. We may eat of lot of hot dogs, cereal, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I could do it. I’ve even followed recipes before to make cookies and baked spaghetti. With a little practice, I could probably get better at it.
How much does this describe us as Christians? Too many times, we think that there is nothing that we can do for God. We don’t have any skills that can help someone else who is struggling. I can’t lead singing during worship. I can’t preach a sermon. I don’t know how to teach the Bible to someone. I don’t know how to answer hard questions.
We begin to compare ourselves to everyone else and conclude that we have no skills. I listen to the preacher in the pulpit and determine that I can’t teach like him. I read a book written by a Biblical scholar and decide that I don’t know enough to teach someone else. I hear someone ask a hard question in a Bible class and conclude that I can’t teach a class. I just can’t do it.
How much are we selling ourselves short? Just because I may not be a highly-sought-after preacher does not mean I can’t teach someone the Bible. Just because I don’t know how to read music doesn’t mean I can’t lead a song. Just because I’m not a great speaker does not mean I can’t teach a class.
There are so many ways that we can make an impact in someone’s lives. It does not take a degree in Bible to send someone a card with an encouraging note. It does not take an extraordinary skill to take someone dinner (and if you can’t cook, there is always takeout). You don’t even have to speak in order to sit with a family in a hospital waiting room.
The simple fact is that we can all do something. Listen to what Paul says in I Corinthians 12:15-19:
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
We can all do something. God does not expect us to all do the same thing. In fact, He instilled each of us with different talents, abilities, and passions. He does, however, expect us to use the talents He gave us for His church. From the above passage, if we are an eye but don’t use our talents to help the body to see, then what good are we to the body? If I am an ear but don’t help the body to hear, what good am I to the body? Whatever talent I have, I must use it for the body of Christ, His church.
If you aren’t as good at something as others around you, that doesn’t matter. As I write this, I am sitting in a hotel room in Nashville with my father as we are both attending a conference for work. In the background, we are watching the Florida Gators football team participate in their Pro Day (basically the players trying to display their skills to the professional scouts in hopes of improving their draft selection position). These guys are obviously performing athletic feats that many of us could never do. Then my father made a very simple, yet encouraging statement. He said, “It’s a good thing that we don’t have a tryout in order to get in Heaven. We all have the same requirement to get there, and we don’t have to prove we are better than everyone else.”
If you can’t preach a sermon, that’s OK. You can still invite someone to services. If you can’t lead a congregation in singing, that’s OK. You can still sing with meaning and passion to edify those around you. If you can’t write a commentary on the Bible, that’s OK. You can still share a tract or pamphlet with someone that teaches him or her how to become a Christian.
If you aren’t a gourmet chef, that’s OK. You can still fry bologna.
Jonathan, I loved this article! Thank you for putting into words these encouraging thoughts to strive to be more for the Lord. They describe my situation also. I have some very talented Christian family members and friends, and being that I was SO shy by nature, it has taken me a long time to stretch myself in order to grow in service to Him. Usually, I am WAY out of my comfort zone. But that’s ok, I have found that our brothers and sisters are quite gracious and loving and will help us along the way. Thanks again, my brother!
Thank you, Tammy. I think most will find that it is typically only fear or shyness that is holding us back, and not really a lack of ability. Once we break from our comfort zone a couple times, we realize that’s it not as bad as we initially thought.