Three ways the Gospel changes what you do in the office kitchen
It’s the scene of many an office dispute. A daily battlefield of the passive-aggressive sticky note kind. The office kitchen is the bane of many worker’s lives.
Chances are you’re not the only one to have just prepared your lunch, only to find the cutlery drawer empty of forks. Or gone to the fridge and discovered your lunch has disappeared. Or been quietly working away when an email arrives (always in capitals) stating emphatically CLEAN YOUR FOOD OUT OF THE FRIDGE BEFORE FRIDAY OR IT GOES IN THE BIN.
In a recent workplace podcast they explored the three unwritten rules of the office kitchen: don’t steal other people’s food, clean up after yourself, and respect fellow workers. Pretty simple it would seem, but as the podcast lamented, “left to our devices it’s just the laws of the jungle”.
So instead offices adopt different methods to try and keep the kitchen clean, including everything from a roster, to appointing a kitchen monitor, to plastering the kitchen cupboards with notices about consequences for mess. Some employers even go so far as to make keeping the kitchen clean the job of the most recent person to be employed.
What difference should being a Christian make to how we approach the office kitchen? We are people not left to our own devices, but empowered by the Spirit to live differently. So here are three suggestions:
1. Service. We follow a Saviour who “did not come to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). A Saviour who “showed [His disciples] the full extent of his love” (John 13:1) by getting down on His knees and washing their feet. A Saviour who then said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).
It’s one thing to clean up after yourself; it’s another thing altogether to clean up after others. But what a witness it could be to take an extra two minutes when returning your own crockery to the kitchen after lunch to wash any other dishes lying around. Our work days are busy, but two minutes really is only a small imposition.
2. Generosity. You’ve likely seen sticky-notes on items in the fridge saying “Hands off - this is Mike’s”. And it’s totally fine to want to make sure no one pinches your lunch!
For the Christian however we follow a big, extravagant, generous God. A God who when He fed five thousand people had twelve basketfuls of food left over (Matthew 14:20). A God who gave His very life so that we might be rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
So why not write a sticky-note of a different kind. On occasions bring in extra servings of your lunch to share around and leave a “Help yourself!” sticky-note on them instead.
3. Order. “In the beginning” God’s first act of work was to bring order to chaos (Genesis 1:2). He took a formless and empty space and He formed it and filled it. In our lives He does the same thing; making us new and bringing order to chaos.
We display something of what our God is like when we are people who are on about bringing order to chaos. And let’s face it, the office kitchen is very chaotic! So don’t resent cleaning up mess; embrace it as an opportunity to do a God-like activity. You might even find yourself enjoying the task.
So as you seek to serve and be generous, enjoy the act of cleaning up as an act of worship; glorifying God by showing the workplace something of what He is like.