This story is a about a couple we'll call Ralph and Betty Matthews, from our first little church that we pastored out in rural Ohio. They invited us over for dinner one night. We gladly accepted and went over and Betty had prepared a wonderful meal. We shared pleasant conversation and then she said, "would you like dessert?" We said, "sure."
She went into the kitchen and started creating quite a masterpiece. She asked my husband a few questions about exactly how he wanted his dessert. She said she wanted it to be "just perfect" for the pastor. After topping it off with homemade whipped cream and some other special touches, she brought it out on fine china and presented it to him like she was presenting it to a king. This is no exaggeration. She walked out with it and held it out like she was presenting it at Buckingham Palace or something. Grinning from ear to ear and said, "Pastor, I sure do hope you enjoy it. I created it just for you..."
Then she turned to me and said, "And would you like some dessert too?"
I said, "yes, please."
And she answered, "Get it yourself, it's in on the kitchen counter."
Yes. I. Am. Serious.
And so was she. This was not a joke. I went in, fixed my own dessert and the boys desserts, and came back out. My husband found this quite amusing and I wanted to hit him upside the head. To give a disclaimer here for those of you who don't know me as well, do not go to our church, or have never been in my home --.I don't have a sense of entitlement. I don't "expect" to be served. I am a servant, and one of my dearly held values is servant leadership. At the same time I am a passionate about hospitality and have even taught many classes or workshops about it. In my own home if I am serving one guest, I serve them all.
This was a learning illustration for me, for sure. It furthered my passion for true hospitality and being a real servant to all who walk through the doors of my home and our church. I try to make things special even for the children who come over. How many times do people leave out the kids? What does that say to them? It speaks, "we're not important." (Our former children's pastor's wife Misty used to always say to me, "PD, it's so nice that you have all this china set out even for the kids, but do you have a plastic cup for Nate and Celeena to use? I'm so afraid they are going to break your beautiful things." I would always provide them what they asked for, but at the same time always wanted to make them feel special and told them even if they broke them, they were just "things". And people in our house - even "little people" - are more important than things.)
I do have to admit, after this evening at the Matthews, I had to resist the temptation during communion to call out over the microphone to Betty and tell her the communion was on the altar, to come get it herself. Ha ha!!!