Leadership in the Chopped Kitchen

When my family moved to Alaska, one of the shows that we regularly watched on the Food Network was Chopped. If you have not seen it, four contestants come into a kitchen to prepare a meal. In each round they are given a basket of mystery items that they are required to put into a plate of food for a panel of judges. Often the mystery items are a real challenge to incorporate into fine dining. The show is fun to watch, and while I rarely see it anymore, I have noticed a host of other shows built on similar concepts.

The reason I share information about that show is that it serves as a great analogy. I read it somewhere, so it is not original to me, that Church leadership is much like a Chopped kitchen. When I graduated from Bible College, I imagined my ministry would be like working in a fine restaurant. Conditions would be perfect with every person knowing their role, and meals would be flawlessly served. Then when I arrived at my first Church, I found a Chopped basket of mystery items. I had to work to make a great meal with often nontraditional ingredients. One part of the challenge was to get every component to work together in a harmonious finished product.

After reading this analogy, I have talked to several people about it, and I have heard the same response. That is what running a small business is like, or coaching a youth sport, or being a teacher, or some form of administration. Numerous jobs require the leader to work with unexpected ingredients to make a quality product.

When it comes to the Church, I find this analogy particularly fitting and vital. God called me as a leader to help build his kingdom with whatever he gives me. There are seasons where the meals are refined and seem very professional and other times when it is more like a mother of three little ones just trying to get something on the plate. The important thing is that every person plays a part in the kingdom of God here in my Church.

One of the things I hate about the modern Church is how most people picture themselves as judges. They want to give the meal their approval or disapproval and rate the performance of those composing the meal. The heart of a true believer is to figure out how to make the best meal for the ultimate judge in heaven and nothing less. The question for everyone who is part of a Church is, “How is my life glorifying God through its presence in this Church?” Your piece may be large or small, and at times it might not seem to fit, but there is always a place for you.

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