When I moved into my first apartment my junior year of college, I was most excited about having a kitchen of my own. The kitchen was the focal point of my social and personal life during my growing up years. The kitchen was the place where our family was shaped, where my high school and college friends laughed-so-hard-we-cried, and where strangers were welcomed into our lives.
When I moved into my first apartment at Purdue, I was excited to figure out how this kitchen would be used in my life and the life of my community.
I had no idea that those two years spent in a small apartment kitchen at 101 Russell Street would shape me in so many ways. Through those two years of learning to cook without a recipe, making dinners in collaboration with my roommate for more than 200 people, washing every single dish by hand and eating alone at the kitchen table, I realized that the drama of the kitchen is about more than merely preparing, serving and eating food.
Our kitchens aren’t merely production halls. They’re tools we are given to steward. And to steward them well, we must gain a glorious vision for our kitchens. That’s why the need a mission statement.
I don’t necessarily mean a traditional mission statement with a cliched mantra and three supporting points. By mission statement, I mean an all-encompassing vision for the kitchen you want to embody in our performance driven world fueled by Pinterest, others’ social media posts and a desire for the perfect.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter,” writes Bob Goff. Goff’s words ring true for our kitchens too. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest organization technique to keep your spatulas in the right place or how to make a caramel dipped pears for your next party. While complicated recipes and beautiful, organized kitchens aren’t bad pursuits, we need to assess their ultimate importance and act accordingly.
Having a clear vision for your kitchen and its activities keeps you grounded in what matters. It cuts through the noisy world that’s telling us to work hard at tasks that are ultimately about impressing others and building a name for ourselves. Having a clear vision for your kitchen helps you invest in the things that matter to you.
Who are you? Maybe you’re the life of the party and love to host big dinner parties that show people the beauty of community, laughter and shared meals. Maybe you’re the type loves to listen to others’ stories over a cup of coffee and a plate of cookies. Our personalities and inclinations shouldn’t constrain or limit us, but they can guide us.
What makes you tick? Do you love having a big group of people at your home, enjoying themselves while eating carry out pizza and beer? Do you like it when your neighbors feel like they can stop in for dinner? Maybe you love the work of cooking and are always taking a meal to someone who has a new baby, recently moved or is recovering from surgery? Are consistent family dinners the place where you’re able to connect with your loved ones and pour into their lives? Figure out what you enjoy doing, and build from that.
What is your current season of life? It’s important that you look at your current season of life and assess your limitations. Don’t be frustrated, but see your current season as a natural boundary that helps you make decisions. My husband and I live in a tiny apartment right now, and making a big meal and hosting big parties isn’t the best fit. However, we’ve realized that potlucks for big groups and small dinners are a great for us right.
How to Develop a Mission Statement
After you answer these questions, start pulling together a “mission statement” for your kitchen. Don’t be afraid to get out of the box. While you could develop a traditional mission statement that a business or organization would have, you can use a painting, a quote from a book or an inspiration board. Remember, the goal is to help you develop a mission for your kitchen so that you have a vision for the work that matters to you.
- An Inspiration Board: An inspiration board with a hodge-podge of quotes and images can help you remember what you want your kitchen to be about. Here’s my Pinterest board as an example; you’ll notice an alarming lack of complicated recipes.
- Words: Is there a passage from a book that speaks to you about the importance of meals? Maybe there’s religious text or a poem that describes the vision you have for your kitchen? Luke 14 and Isaiah 25:6-9 are two pieces from the Bible that help me define what I want the work of my kitchen to be. This quote from G.K. Chesterton also guides me:
“All true friendliness begins with fire and food and drink and the recognition of rain or frost. …Each human soul has in a sense to enact for itself the gigantic humility of the Incarnation. Every man must descend into the flesh to meet mankind.”
- Art: Although I’m a novice when it comes to art appreciation, I’m always amazed how certain pieces of art can help me cast a vision. Below is a piece from Kyle Ragsdale, an artist at my church in Indy; you can read more about the exhibit where the piece debuted here. This piece reminds me that the goal of my kitchen work isn’t to promote myself, but to bring people together and give them the gift of community and good food and drink. If you choose a piece of art as your mission statement, make sure you ask yourself “why” you chose this piece.
Your mission statement can be one of the elements listed above, a combination or something else entirely. The point is to have a vision for your kitchen and work toward that instead of spending time on consuming tasks and activities that don’t help us live the lives we want to live. By having a mission for our kitchens, we can invest ourselves in work we care about. You must have a vision for your kitchen because it is too valuable to waste.
ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m excited to let you know about “A Kindred Kitchen,” a new project I’ve been working on for the past year to help women like me steward their kitchens well. Our official launch is next week, but pop on over to our Facebook page and Instagram to learn more and stay up to date with what’s going on.