My friend recently told me about being part of the meals ministry at church.

She would be tying polka dot ribbons around her tidy tinfoil packages of steaming hot, delicious food, and tucking her added gift of little kitchen towels strategically into the basket to keep the food in place… when her kids would wander into the kitchen.

Smelling the tasty food, and seeing the smart little basket, they would say, “Oh! Mom, is that for us? Are we gonna get to eat that food?”

She would say (of course), “No! Don’t touch it! This is for the people from church who just had a baby!” and would swat their hands away while she added her adorable little printed menu to the basket.

And so her kids (looking a little disappointed), would say, “Oh, ok… but what are we gonna have for dinner?”

Lifting her perfect polkadot meal basket to her shoulder, and heading for the door, she would say, “Uh… haven’t thought that far. Maybe hot dogs?”

And off she would go to deliver perfection.

Oh, how I laughed at my friend’s description! It was funny, but also not. Because while I’ve never been part of our church’s meals ministry, I have often delivered my best outside my home and given my family the leftovers. Leftover food, leftover planning, leftover creativity, leftover energy.

Why would I do that? Why would I serve homemade cinnamon rolls at the brunch, and pop tarts at home? Why would I spend all evening preparing my Sunday School lesson for the kids at church, and not even read a Bible story to my own kids? Why would I clean my house from top to bottom for so it’s sparkling for our small group, and then neglect the laundry for six days until no one in my family has any clean underwear?

I think I fall into serving my family the ‘leftovers menu’ when I become obsessed with trying to make myself look good. In order to deliver perfection out there, I have to steal from what I’m serving at home.

But do I accomplish what I’m hoping to? Do I make myself look good? Not in the eyes of those sad, hungry people at my table who see a hot dog thrown on their plates for the third time this week. And not to the Lord Jesus, who gifted me with this family, and who says that when I serve those whom I’m not trying to impress (‘the least of these’) I’m actually serving Him.

I’m all for serving sacrificially. My husband and I serve a lot, and its not always convenient or easy. But our ministry at home (which is also not convenient or easy) is not where the Lord said to serve the ‘leftovers’. It should be the main course of what we’re serving up to God.

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