Too Many Cooks? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Remember the old adage “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth”? It describes a consequence of having “too many chiefs and not enough braves.” We frequently hear both of these idioms, and we generally agree that in this world there are way too many people who want to call all the shots. Now don’t get us wrong, leaders are a vital part of every company, community, organization, family, and faith congregation: they usually know what needs to be done and how to get it done — or who to delegate it to. At least, we hope they do. And in their capacity as leaders — and perhaps we should qualify our statement — as GOOD leaders, they fulfill the all important task of ensuring things are done correctly and with a minimum of chaos.

Without a designated leader to organize activities and coordinate duties, you’ll have two or three people trying to perform the same task, while another job gets completely neglected. We write designated because sometimes we need to appoint a person — one person — to lead, not because of their age, charisma or even experience, but simply to put an end to disorder. Obviously the best qualified people should lead, but what happens when you have two potential leaders with equal qualifications?

Getting back to the kitchen, two cooks, both waving a spoon like a baton, while preparing the same dish, can end up serving an unpalatable mess. Think about our opening phrase: two conscientious and well-meaning cooks micromanaging a broth simmering on the range is an invitation to disaster. Guaranteed, one of them has already sufficiently seasoned the bubbling mixture; and guaranteed, the other cook will inevitably add another pinch of salt, white pepper, garlic, or something it doesn’t need! The resultant broth will be too salty, too hot, or give the diners bad breath for weeks.

In the finest restaurants, there are several chefs on duty: a Head Chef, a Sous-Chef (second in command), a Pastry or Dessert Chef, as well as chefs specializing in fish, vegetables, sauces … and the list goes on. All these chefs are highly skilled. Many could no doubt lead if called upon. However, at any given time, only a single chef is planning the menu and coordinating the efforts of his or her staff. If you dine in one of these five-star restaurants, your meal will almost always arrive hot and without an unwarranted delay; and if you walk into the kitchen, you’ll see all the chefs working smoothly and efficiently with no misunderstandings, no confusion, no duplicated efforts, and no spoiled broth. (Which is for the best, considering these restaurant kitchens maintain an impressive assortment of knives.)

Wait just a doggone minute! Who’s in charge here?!?!

Here’s another example: one commercial airliner, two capable pilots; both pilots have equal experience and capabilities, and both can fly the plane. But only one is designated as the pilot. The other member of the cockpit team is just as important, but has taken the position of co-pilot. This is a good thing. It ensures the passengers reach their destination.

As we stated, every company, community, organization, family, and faith congregation needs a designated “Head Chef” to ensure that whatever’s “cooking” turns out right and with a minimum of confusion. The head guy isn’t better or more valuable than the “Sous-Chef”; it’s just the best way to get things done. This is especially true in marriages, particularly in the area of finances. Show us a couple with equal jurisdiction over their budget and expenditures, and we’ll show you overdrawn accounts and needlessly missed payments.

Show us a committee where two people are trying to call the shots, and we’ll show you a decline in volunteers. The same goes for any “family” unit, be it a business, club, or faith community. But the point we’re trying to make is this: it’s okay to concentrate on what you do best, and then follow a good leader. Even Jesus Christ understood this, which is why He remained under the headship of God the Father, stating, “For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent me.” (John 6:28 NIV) It was the expedient way to accomplish His mission on earth.

True, someone has to be in charge, but it can’t always be you. Nor can we always have our own way in matters. So, maybe it’s time you got out of the kitchen (unless you ARE the head cook). Stop lifting the lids on all the pots. Stop tasting the broth every five minutes. And stop thinking that in every situation you need to put in your two cents worth of spices. Be content to be the co-pilot, or the Sous-Chef, or just part of a bigger team. That’s how things get done, quickly, smoothly and efficiently — without bruised egos and busted noses; without kitchen chaos and culinary conundrums.

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…. Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40 King James)

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Easy Off! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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A long time ago, in a kitchen far far away … we had one of those old-style ovens that had to be manually cleaned. We’d spray this formula called Easy Off! onto the walls of the oven — the label stated “No scrubbing necessary” (Heh! Yeah, right!) — then close the door and switch on the heat. An hour or two later there was this stinky sludge caked to the oven walls, which had to be sponged off. It was dark-brown and slimy and downright disgusting. We’d wear gloves while wiping it clean, but always managed to get greasy glop on our exposed arms.

There’s gotta be an easier way!

But hey, it had to done. A clean oven is a happy oven. Not to mention that a clean oven functions more efficiently — and doesn’t embarrass you when guests peak inside it to see what’s for dinner. So we really didn’t mind doing it. Well, maybe just a little. All right, all right, we hated it!

Then one day Sparky came into our lives! No, he’s not a professional oven cleaner — he IS our oven! And he’s self-cleaning!!! Which is a real blessing because, face it, in life stuff happens! For instance, while baking an apple pie, the lava-hot filling often bursts through the crust, flowing through the rack like magma to the oven floor below, where it hardens into rock!

Not a problem! Sparky goes into his self-cleaning mode at the flip of a switch. When he does, he goes into full lockdown. You couldn’t pry his door open with a crowbar! And that’s when things really get hot — literally. We usually give Sparky plenty of space while he’s self-cleaning, about a four-hour process in which our oven incinerates all the crud that’s built up inside of him during the course of his kitchen duties!

I’m Sparky, and I’m pretty cool for an oven!

Know what? That’s right, people are like ovens: in life, we tend to build up a crusty layer of stuff, and we need cleaning if we’re to be happy (like Sparky) and function efficiently. Things in life have a way of getting messy just like that apple pie filling. Regrets and feelings of hurt, guilt and shame can bubble over and leave us feeling “cruddy”; and if not dealt with, this layer of gunk can separate us, or make us feel distant, from our Heavenly Father.

But unlike Sparky, none of us have a self-cleaning feature. Oh, some of us think we do. We have a relative who once mentioned that he plans to get “right” with God one day, and even start going to church, but first he needs to “clean up his act.” Don’t we all? But that is NOT a prerequisite for being accepted by God. Our Heavenly Father is waiting for us with open arms. He’s inviting us to come as we are. “…He has made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6 American King James)

Some of us believe we can’t face God until we get out of an improper relationship, or stop drinking, abusing drugs, etc. Only we’re like those old-fashioned ovens. We’re good at cooking up a mess — even when we’re trying to be “good” — but we don’t have the right “formula” to de-gunk ourselves; or the “muscle” needed to scrub the innermost parts of our lives.

Not to worry. God does! And He has NEVER expected us to try  to clean up our own messes before approaching Him. That’s why He gave us a Savior in His only Son. Jesus Christ is the real, Spiritual Easy Off! (No scrubbing necessary!) So, don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise!

But again, that’s why God accepts us as we are: who we are and where we are. He recognizes a good oven when He sees one, despite the grime on the inside. After the “oven” is in “His house,” then He sets about cleaning it (us) … until it sparkles like new. And as with an oven, He cleans us from the inside out! In other words, God loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way!

“But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” (Acts 2:21 NLT)

Are you feeling gunked up today? Not “cooking” as smoothly as you should? Call out to your Heavenly Father. He collects ovens of all colors and models, and then restores them to showroom condition: sparkling clean inside and out!

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

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