Monday, February 01, 2010

Gordon Ramsay, eat your heart out

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Exodus 4:11-12 (New Living Translation): Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”

My wife and I spent the weekend with the singles group from our church at Pebble Beach in a palatial house (a gift) for a leadership retreat. My role was to combine my ministry resources with my culinary acumen and blend it into an interactive team-building exercise in the kitchen. Thirteen single adults were given cash to spend and a 4 ½-hour time limit to plan, shop and work together in the kitchen to prepare a meal. The emphasis for the day was to build camaraderie amongst the leaders.

Before sending them off, I had prepared to show them an episode from “Hell’s Kitchen,” in which the star of the show, Gordon Ramsay, lays into one of the young chefs on the show for making a blunder, but just as I was ready to hit play … my computer battery died. I gave them the Cliff Notes version, telling them there would be no yelling or screaming on my part when one of my would-be chefs blew it on a kitchen task. Maybe we’ll call my version “Heaven’s Kitchen,” in which only friendly tones and encouragement are offered by this kitchen coach.

For the next 20 minutes, I witnessed utter chaos. My role for the day was not to cook the meal, but to simply instruct here and there and give my advice on cooking techniques. I nudged one of the leaders I knew well. “You guys need to pray, or this is going to be a disaster,” I suggested. Sure enough, after the group prayed for direction, peace and calm reigned. Cooperative planning and good decision-making suddenly replaced the bedlam. For the next four hours, the exercise went fairly smoothly, much to the delight of all.

After the meal was prepared, everyone sat down to a wonderful meal on beautifully decorated tables. This was their celebration, and together, we gave thanks for what we had produced. Friendly conversation and laughter filled both tables, as participants shared their learning experiences – good and bad. After we finished eating, we waddled over to the living room to debrief. I reminded the group about the importance of prayer when serving the king. When we pray, we are asking the Holy Spirit to bless our efforts and to guide us to the work that God needs done. He gives us special powers to accomplish things we never dreamed we could do. Prayer removes fear and limitations and empowers us to be creative with humility and great strength.

(FYI, the team-building exercise I designed is called Feast With the King for the church, and Kitchen Coach for the corporate world. I’ll share more about my ideas later. God bless)

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for the empowerment you give us when we turn to you for strength and guidance. Truly, I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me. Amen

This week’s reading plan can be found at

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