There is an old folk tale called “Stone Soup”. In it, some hungry travelers come to a town. Although they have no food, they do have an empty cooking pot. The travelers fill the pot with water, add a stone and put it over a fire to cook. A villager happens upon them and asks what’s cooking and the travelers tell him they’re making soup, but it needs a carrot. The villager says that he could spare a carrot and graciously contributes to the pot. Another villager comes by and offers a stalk of celery to improve the flavor. Other villagers come upon the scene and, one by one, happily contribute vegetables and meat and seasoning, until there is a delightful pot of soup that all of them share.
Varying traditions tell the story in slightly different ways. Many cast the travelers as deceptive; others show them to be more forthright. I like to look at it from the latter perspective and focus more on the villagers, and their willingness to kindly add the little they have to be a part of something bigger.
Even if that’s just me putting a positive spin on it, the story has given me two powerful principles I can grasp onto, as I grow this ministry.
- First, we may start with nothing but a cooking pot, but God has given us a pot and we need to use it to the fullest. In Matthew 25, in the parable of the talents, Jesus is pretty clear that, whether we have 1 talent or 2 talents or 5 talents, we need to make the most of them. It’s not enough to say, “Well, all I have is a pot, how can I be expected to make anything of that?”
- Second, if all we have is a pot, perhaps that’s an indication that God wants us to partner with other people. If we had the cooking pot and the vegetables and the meat and the seasonings all on our own, perhaps we wouldn’t be too inclined to work alongside others.
The Lord created us in His image and He is a God of relationship.
As Americans, we tend to want to do our own thing, which—in proper balance—is fabulous. A lot of great ideas, technologies and enterprises have come from independent and entrepreneurial thinking. But, sometimes, the wisest course of action is to magnify and maximize our gifts by sharing them with others. Not in a forced, socialistic way. But in a way that acknowledges that we need others and others need us. And, as Christians, the more we work together, the greater impact we can have for Christ.
If you are an experienced ministry leader who would be willing to contribute your carrot to the pot, please get in touch. And, if you’re a traveler, hungry for more, please check back often. Soon, we’ll have a big pot of delicious soup we can all enjoy!