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“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” – Philippians 2:3
So Sunday, August 10th, 2014 marked the beginning of a very new chapter and a very new ministry for both my wife and I – Innkeepers at a B&B just outside Moab, Utah. The road to Moab really began in the Spring of 2008 when we heard God direct us as a couple towards a future where new opportunity and new ministry would only happen if we first chose to let go . . let go of houses, belongings, zip codes, familiarity . . and trust Him to take us into an amplified season of promoting His name and His kingdom.
So you might rightfully ask what is an ordained minister of the Gospel and his bride doing out in the Utah wilderness (gorgeous as it is and only minutes from where John Wayne filmed many of his movies) running a 9 room B&B? Without a long explanation, let’s just say we have a passion for hospitality, for people, for encouraging . . and for creating a safe place for others to land, rest and renew . . far from the challenges and weariness of everyday life in the fast lane.
So here we are: Castle Valley Inn . . in you guessed it . . Castle Valley, Utah . . close to the Colorado River and just minutes from the front porch of the La Sal Mountains and the westernmost part of the state of Colorado itself.
We are being trained to manage all operational aspects of the Inn (in 10 days flat, mind you) . . and after a few months, it may prove out that we are not necessarily truly a “fit” for the job (six 15 hour days a week of work), but we are going to give it our best shot. So here it goes: my third of 30 blogs about my first days and weeks as an Innkeeper.
Day 4: Gratuity
For me, cooking for others is a form of art and an expression of service and kindness. No, I am not some over-the-top-gourmet Food Channelaholic . . but I love the process of bringing together a wide variety of raw ingredients . . and converting them into something that has eye appeal and taste bud satisfaction. As Innkeeper, I am getting the opportunity to put one of my passions “in gear” every morning . . early every morning. The process really begins the night before with kitchen organization, food prep and the noting of special dietary needs.
Then comes dawn . . okay pre-dawn . . and I rise at 4:00am so I can be in the kitchen by 5:30am.
Perhaps one of my favorite Castle Valley Inn recipes was on the menu today: Huevos Racheros. Lots of prep . . ingredients like fresh tortillas, beans, onions, queso fresco, avocado, tomato . . and of course eggs . . are all in play. I love organization, execution and the adrenaline rush of bringing a well-prepared dish to completion . . served of course on a very warm plate. Presentation is a BIG thing but not everything . . but I love the moment when our guests lay eyes on their breakfast for that very first moment . . and hopefully turn and look into my eyes with . .a smile.
I am learning that you strike a much deeper sense of rapport with many of your B&B guests than otherwise . . some of course stay for days . .allowing for genuine opportunities to express kindness, help with sightseeing plans and food stops . . even time for sharing stories.
One of THOSE KIND of guests smiled over my Huevos Rancheros today . . and upon completing his meal asked me to stay put for a few moments. He dashed away . . only to return within a couple of minutes. With great joy, he wished to express his appreciation for the service received during his stay. He and his wife obviously had a great experience . . but he also personalized the farewell . . “David, you and the team were wonderful!”.
Then he handed me a generous tip. A tip . . I suddenly realized I could not remember the last time I ever received a tip. But then again . . I got loads of tips as a Pastor. “Your sermon could use a shorter intro” . . “You should be home with your family on Thursday nights, not visiting church families” . . “You are moving too fast . . you will lose support” . . etc. I have even received some real genius tips as a church volunteer . .”You shouldn’t be helping other volunteer teams” . . “You should stick to your assigned ‘spot'” . . “You shouldn’t be developing and raising up new leaders” . .etc.
Upon further reflection, we must remember that some people feel so insecure and so out of control in their own personal lives, that they will often go out of their way to advise, direct . . provide unsolicited solutions to people just like you and I . . rather than just listen with an earnest ear to your story . . or more importantly, be focused first on where they are supposed to be . . in His.
Perhaps we can slow down the Christianized controlling, smothering, bullying, power-brokering advice machine in and around the church for a while and remember something about the word “gratuity”. It simply means “something given voluntarily or beyond obligation . . usually for some service”. This can mean money in some settings . . but beyond money left on a breakfast table . . is there any greater joy than to look past faults, or personality differences, or different trajectories in gifting . . and blessing a brother or sister in Christ with a tangible unsolicited expression of appreciation for their service to their King?
When your long list of self-serving, unity-breaking, agenda-riddled tips come to a tipping point . . and genuine selfless interest in learning more how those around you are pursuing Jesus becomes THE focus . . watch out, you might just start smelling a lot more like Him . . than “huuummm” . . you know . . that under your breath distasteful and disapproving air of judgment . . that can quickly empty your life of the simple joy of . . gratuity.
Encouraged by this post? You just might want to . .