Church Life

Baking is Not a Spiritual Gift

Recently I was silently tracking with the brother who was praying at our midweek meeting. He thanked God for the young people coming up in our assembly. For the young men-leading, teaching, praying and participating.

And then he added thanks too for the young women who are also stepping up to the plate in the local assembly…serving and making desserts and such. Yes, he actually used those words.

Oh.my.word! I was thoroughly exasperated! Does he really think this? (see my previous article) Ah, and such fodder for an article!

Some groundwork

Three points to clarify right out of the gate:

  1. I have no problem with young women (or young men, for that matter) serving in their local assemblies by way of making snacks, or desserts, or other consumables for potlucks, outreaches, and fellowship times.
  2. Serving is definitely a spiritual gift. But, it is not relegated only to women, nor does it only manifest itself in making food for, or cleaning up after, assembly functions.
  3. I love cooking. As a matter of fact, I run a cooking/food-based business. I regularly demonstrate love for the people in my life by cooking nourishing and delicious food for them. If I love you, I cook for you. If I like you, I cook for you. If I can’t stand you, I probably cook for you too.

But, I certainly do NOT equate cooking and cleaning with the spiritual roles, responsibilities, and (might I say) gifts of women in the assemblies.

Does that statement raise your hackles? (like mine were raised at prayer meeting…)

If a woman’s (or man’s) gift IS serving, serving IS the way they contribute to local body life.

Varieties of gifts

But, if serving is NOT actually their spiritual gift, there is MUCH more that each woman should be contributing to the spiritual life and functioning of the local assembly.

Caveat #4: (continuing from above) Within scriptural guidelines (I’m looking at 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2, plus Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12), there are ways for women to use their spiritual gifts in the context of the local church to edify the body of Christ.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed…Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,  to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-11 (ESV)

We MUST recognize these gifts in young women, and we MUST encourage them to use their gifts.

  • If her gift is giving…there are ways for her to contribute generously.
  • If her gift is teaching, there are opportunities for her to teach (Sunday school, discipleship, women’s Bible studies come immediately to mind).
  • If her gift is evangelizing, she should be sharing the good news with the lost.
  • If her gift is mercy or exhortation, the neglected skill of counseling is a path to exercise those gifts.

Equip for more

Why does this matter?

If we fail to see our young women as spiritual beings in their own right, with spiritual gifts, roles and responsibilities, we cripple them in the present and our churches in the future. Thus:

  • We need to be teaching our young women the importance of their personal walk with the Lord.
  • We need to teach them the value of prayer. Baring their hearts to the Faithful God, the One who can move mountains.
  • We need to teach them how to study their Bibles-for their own Christian growth. And also to not be lead astray by popular and very vocal, and often very wrong, Christian women in our current evangelical culture.
  • We need to teach them the practice of hospitality, and the way it’s a tool to minister to the saints and reach the lost and to disciple believers.
  • We need to teach them how to evangelize. We need to teach them what the gospel is, and how to share that with the lost.
  • We need to be teaching them how to lead Bible studies and how to teach Sunday school and shepherd children and other young women.
  • We need to teach them how to visit the sick, new moms, and the elderly. How to bring encouragement to those who are on the fringes.

And we ourselves need to be praying that they will step up to the plate and be godly, spiritual young women. We need to expect them to contribute to the body in these ways, as far as they have been gifted by the Holy Spirit.

Too costly to neglect

What happens when we shortsightedly and wrongfully believe that a woman’s role in the local church is limited to physical food and other physical activities?

Let’s assume hypothetically that this brother is correct. That these young women are all fully filling their role in the local body by cooking and doing other forms of service.

What are the future ramifications of this (erroneous) line of thinking?

  • If a young woman is not digging into the Word of God and applying it to her life, she will NOT be a godly, spiritual woman.
  • If she is not a godly, spiritual woman, she will NOT be a godly, spiritual wife. This means she will neither be partnering with her husband in the work of the Lord (like Aquila and Priscilla) or even seeing the need to support her husband in the work of the Lord. She will not sacrifice time, money and resources for him to be involved. So, we will lose both godly women and godly men in our local churches.
  • If a young woman is not a godly, spiritual woman, she will NOT be a godly, spiritual mother. And she will NOT raise godly offspring. If the cultivation of her godliness was not of utmost importance, why would she consider it important for her children? There will be no godly future generations.
  • If a woman is not a godly, spiritual woman, they will NOT be a godly and spiritual older woman…who is tasked with teaching the younger women to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in love, faith, and steadfastness. Not slanderers. Not given to much wine. Reverent in behavior. To be pure, working at home, kind, submissive to their husband. (Titus 2)

Our churches are the embodiment of the people in them. Statistically, 50% of the church is women. If we want strong, godly, God-honoring, loving, lost-reaching churches, we need strong, godly, God-honoring, loving, lost-reaching women.

The world is promoting a different message. Self-fulfillment. Self-focus. Self-care. Immediate gratification. Careers. Success. Feminism. The world is competing for their hearts. Their time, service and love.

We can’t compete, but we can teach the truth and offer the authentic alternative. Let’s instill in these young women a high view of God, and a Biblical view of their spirituality and resulting role in the church and in the world!

To paraphrase a well known quote:

Here’s to spiritual women.

May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

Photo by freestocks

Bernadette Veenstra

    7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    “If a woman is not a godly, spiritual young woman, they will NOT grow into a godly and spiritual older woman…” Your article is definitely well thought out and well written, but I must disagree with the above statement. God can turn any young believer in the Lord into a godly, spiritual older woman.

    Reply

    • Bernadette Veenstra

      Bernadette Veenstra

      That is very true. I stand corrected. I meant more that you can’t be something you are not. There would have to be a change, and redemption, for that younger woman to become and older woman. Which speaks to your point.We are not stuck on a path forever and ever. Thank you.

      Reply

  2. Avatar

    Baking isn’t a spiritual gift, but baking is certainly part of “all things” in Colossians 3:17. Making wine for a wedding isn’t a spiritual gift, but the Lord Jesus showed His glory in it. The call is to do “all things” in the name of the Lord Jesus, in power and energy of the Holy Spirit. That sounds like a platitude, but it’s the most important thing. The Christian life is the life of Jesus manifested in our mortal bodies, and that HAS to include the most mundane things we do.

    Darby’s caution against “worship in the flesh” is worth reading: https://www.stempublishing.com/authors/darby/synopsis/leviticus/leviticus3.html. There is a real need for repentance: seeing ourselves as God sees us, humbling ourselves in His sight. How often we try to impress Him (and each other), rather than having Christ as our Object! Mundane things done in the name of the Lord Jesus are spiritual; “spiritual” things done in the power and energy of the flesh are just carnal.

    Of course this doesn’t negate your main point. But don’t let’s allow ourselves to despise the small acts of service someone is doing out of genuine devotion. Baking done in the name of the Lord Jesus, with thanks given to the Father, might well be closer to the resurrection life of John 12 than many things we do in a week.

    And of course that goes for younger men as well as younger women. It’s hard to understand how people who claim to believe in “the presidency of the Holy Spirit” feel so free to bully younger men into being vocal. It’s one thing to encourage, it’s quite another to bully. In my experience of many years in and around “brethren”, it’s mainly bullying. We are reaping the results of that bullying in weak ministry, pointless exhortions, and doctrinal error. We’ve decided a man can’t be spiritual without being vocal(!!), and so we push people who have nothing to say into speaking publicly.

    And make no mistake: it’s the gifted who are most dangerous when they speak without actually being led of God. The most dangerous “ministry” comes from people who really are gifted, but are acting on their own. Could Aaron have led all Israel into idolatry if God hadn’t already chosen him as priest? It’s such an easy trap to fall into: we treat gift as license. Everything we do — “all things” — need to be done under the lordship of Christ. As far as I can tell, neither Paul nor Moses would be considered gifted speakers, but they brought the word of God. We’d do well to contemplate that. The Corinthians lacked nothing in terms of gift, but all it did was make them arrogant.

    I agree with your article, but I’m convinced the problem is much deeper.

    Reply

    • Bernadette Veenstra

      Bernadette Veenstra

      I absolutely do NOT despise the small acts of service done in devotion. I am very thankful for them. I feel like every time I put caveat points first and foremost, readers tend to ignore them. My main point is that if someone’s gift is not serving, we shouldn’t just relegate them to serving, but we should train them up in whatever gift they have. And expect them to use it. This certainly applies to both men and women, though I wrote it for young women because we tend to dismiss their gifts much more quickly than that of young men. I also I appreciate the point you brought up (someone else did to me also): that it is just as much a travesty to push young men into preaching and teaching if that is not their gift. We need to stop stereotyping gifts. Not roles, but gifts. There is a big difference.Thank you for your thoughts.

      Reply

  3. Avatar

    Catherine Hulshizer

    Hi Bernadette,
    I, as a young woman, am actually very disheartened by this article. I think that it could have been written in a different way. I 100% believe that serving is not the only spiritual gift. BUT serving is where a lot of people start. I believe that service brings out a lot of the gifts that others have.
    For example, my gift is administration but I wouldn’t have found that out unless I served at camp for a few years & realized that I want to help my camp thrive through their marketing, registration, etc. I still am serving in that way.
    I also believe that this article could have been written in a less condescending way. I don’t think that the midweek speaker meant anything by thanking the Lord the people serving. In fact, that’s probably all he saw & that’s okay. Our gifts as an church are meant to build the body up & some of those gifts will never be noticed. That is okay.
    I hope you are not offended by what I have said, but rather just think about it. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.

    Reply

    • Bernadette Veenstra

      Bernadette Veenstra

      Catherine, Thanks for your comment. I one hundred percent agree that serving is a great way to discover your gift. It was only as I started serving in the area of children’s work that I discovered my gift was actually teaching. I NEVER would have come to that conclusion before that. I also just used this particular instance as an example. I’ve had more than one conversation with this brother and his prayer definitely reflects his thoughts about women and ministry. Which actually is very discouraging to me. I am very thankful for those in my life (men and women) with the gift of serving. They make the wheels go round, and their service is often overlooked, except when not done well. I’m also super thankful for those in my life who encourage all to work to discover what their gift is-whatever their gift is. I’m also sorry if I came across as condescending. That is never my intention. Authoritatively, yes. But the difference can be humility and teachability. I hope that I am teachable, and growing in humility. =)

      Reply

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