Stewards of Our Tables By Jon Lewis
Our Tables as A God-Given Resource
When it comes to leadership skills and the discipline of applying wise stewarding principles to our lives, I doubt that many of us consider the importance of time spent at our dinner tables. I want to propose that as common and mundane as meals shared with family and friends might be, they are also a powerful resource God has given us to steward as well.
The Table Experience
Recently my wife and I completed a two-month “bucket list” trip to Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. As we reflected on our travels afterward, it was interesting how the shared meals we had as guests in others’ homes stood out right alongside the snorkeling, hiking, and sightseeing.
There were plenty of tasty meals at restaurants and quaint eateries along the way. But the experience of sitting down at our daughter’s family table or with a fellow missionary pilot family in Papua or the Melbourne dinner and Christchurch breakfast in the home of good friends, stand out just as strongly as the sight of coral reefs and snow-capped Mt. Cook.
Lessons from Biblical Meals
Scripture is replete with examples of breaking bread together. The Old Testament instructs that every so often, the poor and needy…
“who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do”
~ Dt 14:29
When Abraham was visited by God in Genesis 18, he immediately directed Sarah to prepare a meal for his guest, the Middle Eastern symbol of ultimate hospitality. Even among enemies, a set table is a place of peaceful gathering, as Psalm 23 reminds us. In Acts chapter two, we see how early Christians developed the habit of “breaking bread together.”
And, of course, the most memorable biblical meal of all was the last supper shared by Jesus with his disciples. Luke records Jesus saying,
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you. . . for I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God”
~ Luke 22:15-16
All this to say, God gives us plenty of reasons to value the time our dinner tables offer in creating and cementing relationships.
Making the Most of Table Time
Inviting others into our homes to share a meal can truly be special. Even more than going out to eat somewhere, sharing the intimacy of our home space signals a readiness to have others get to know us and the environment where we live in an up-close, personal way, something that public spaces cannot offer. It allows others a peek into the window of our lives and sets the ground for deep, valuable conversation—all ingredients of true relationship-building.
Speaking of conversation, sitting down at our meal tables should not just be for outside guests. I believe families, and even couples, who maintain the discipline of actually sitting down for their meals reap huge benefits in relationship investment simply by spending the time eating, talking, and reflecting together. I am saddened by the increasing number of accounts I hear of friends who forgo the sit-down meal for the stand-up bowl of breakfast cereal or the Starbucks coffee on the way to work.
One result of our contemporary “grab and go” mentality is that we miss the benefit of the mini-Sabbath-rest moments that a sit-down meal provides— a time to catch our breath, to reflect, and, as Gordon MacDonald reminds us in Ordering Your Private World, to “press meaning back into our work.”
So, what will it be? Will the times of sitting down at our meal tables be perfunctory, expendable, we’ll-do-it-when-we-have-time-for-it experiences? Or will we recognize them as valuable, God-given gifts that as good stewards, we should cherish and cultivate for our benefit and His ultimate glory? You choose.
Jon Lewis is a Senior Associate for Partnership Advancement with OC International and focuses on encouraging global Christian leaders towards greater ministry effectiveness. With over 40-years of experience, he also served as a MAF mission pilot in Africa and CEO of Partners International.
Join us for the Outcomes Conference 2023. We have lots of tables for you to engage and process with others what you are learning, why it matters, and what God may want you to change because of what you heard. It is a place where you can sharpen and be sharpened. We have a table for YOU.
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