April 4, 2011

Multiple Choice: a) Money, b) Work, c) Time

I am only human. I may have eyes in the back of my head (I am a mommy to preschoolers, after all) but my superpowers end there. Usually, I’m just as limited as the next girl. So I’ve decided it’s okay to be limited; especially when it comes to feeding people.

My philosophy comes from a quirky cookbook entitled How to Cook Without a Book by (pastor’s wife) Pam Anderson. She begins each chapter with a little ditty to teach a cooking method; for desserts, she writes:

"There is no one technique for quick dessert and certainly no one rhyme,
But anything is possible with a little money, work, or time."

I’ve morphed this dessert mantra into a principle for all hospitality. Too often, having people over can be a temptation or a burden (depending on your personality) to show off money, work, and time. No wonder we find excuses to get out of doing it! The pressure of demonstrating all three (money, work, and time) is a manifestation of pride. But humility says, “Lord, give me one of these things to commit to this task today.” It may not be much, but it will be enough.

Here’s my week:
This Wednesday, I can commit money. I lead a group of girls at the local YMCA in the afternoon, and then our family is headed out to prayer meeting by 6:45. The one or two people who regularly come for dinner on Wednesdays will find that Rob has picked up pizza and I’ve gotten out paper plates. I don’t have extra time or effort to devote to food on Wednesday, but a little money allows us to welcome others anyway.

This Saturday, I can commit work. I’ve signed up to bring a meal to a church family, and I know I can get my boys to help me assemble lasagna. It won’t take long, and it doesn’t cost much, but we’ll give it our effort.

Sunday, I can commit time. We eat Sunday lunch around one o’clock, so if I get up early I can shove a pork roast in the oven and leave it to slow-roast for pulled-pork barbeque. It’s cheap and hands-off, all I give is time.

The trick is not to feel guilty, not to be overwhelmed by an ideal in your head, but instead to give of yourself and your home with one thing: a little money, a little work, or a little time.

You are, after all, only human.


  1. I think some ministry women need to rely more on others and their contributions of money, work and time to advance the ministry. I am not very good at this because I am a loner (and sometimes a martyr!). I would like to hear how others do that.

  2. Like a baseball batting average, one out of three isn't bad! This way of thinking about hospitality -- money, work, OR (rather than AND) time -- liberates us to think more about the opportunity and to be less calculating regarding our (always) insufficient resources. It then opens the way for God's sufficiency to be seen beyond our expectation. Thank you for this post: a practical way to think about such an important ministry principle.

  3. Mom, I think part of the answer to your question about getting others to contribute is just doing what I've written about here. If women in ministry show that welcoming others can be done by mere humans, if we make our own hospitality simple and limited, then we set a low bar that is easier for others to feel they can attempt.

  4. Great perspective. This mindset makes hospitality a demonstration of our love for people rather than a demonstration of our own abilities. Too often I am tempted to portray that I have it all together. Thanks for sharing this...very helpful. May God get the glory as we seek to serve those around us!


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