Gene Jennings

Gene Jennings

Several years ago, I wrote nine simple statements in my journal. Most of them are biblically based truths that I like to keep on the forefront of my mind. I look at them often because they help me stay grounded and focused. One of the statements is: "Cook spaghetti.”

To be clear, that is not a verse from the Bible and I don’t know how to cook spaghetti. I can make grits, scrambled eggs and toast. That’s about the extent of my kitchen abilities. (Do Pop-Tarts count?) Literally cooking spaghetti is not what that statement is about. Let me explain.

When I was in high school, First Baptist Church of North Augusta had youth night on Wednesday of revival week. The athletes and student organizations from the high school were encouraged to attend. It was a full house. A friend and I decided to attend at the last minute. We got there a little late and ended up on the back row in the balcony.

That night changed my life. I was confronted with the good news and hope that Jesus gives, and I made a decision to follow Him for the rest of my days. I also happen to know that many others made the same decision that I made. I’ve never been the same since that night 42 years ago.

“That’s great, Gene, but what’s that got to do with cooking spaghetti?”

I found out later that the church had a spaghetti supper prior to the service for the young people. Obviously, my friend and I did not make it. But a few years ago as I reflected on that night, it occurred to me that there were some ladies in the church kitchen who spent all day preparing the evening meal for hundreds of high school students. Those ladies were dedicated women who humbly prepared thousands of meals for their church family over the years. (One of them later became my grandmother-in-law.) For that small group of saints, the time spent shopping, preparing and cooking spaghetti was a quiet, behind-the-scenes way of serving Christ. Because they prepared a simple meal, many high school students were changed forever.

In the role I currently play as a pastor on our church staff, I don’t find myself on the stage in front of an audience much. And I’m okay with that. My role is more behind the scenes. Many people don’t know who I am or what I do. That’s okay too. I like to remind myself that my job is to be in the kitchen cooking spaghetti. Doing things that need to be done but out of the spotlight with little or no recognition. So when I look at my journal and see those two words, “Cook spaghetti,” it’s my way of reminding myself that I want to stay faithful and do the tasks required so that others might experience the same life change that I experienced over four decades ago.

How can you cook spaghetti? What seemingly small, simple tasks can you do that will make a big difference? You don’t have to be seen by all. You don’t have to be the captain of the team, the president of the organization or the pilot of the plane. God may want you back in the kitchen, humbly using your gifts, talents and abilities in a way that will serve to change others in an extraordinary way.

“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).

Gene Jennings is Associate Pastor at TrueNorth Church in North Augusta. Visit truenorthchurch.com for more information.