My youngest waltzed out of the pizza place carrying her own personal-sized cheese pizza like a treasure.
It started last fall when we mapped out the activity schedule for the year. One night a week we rush from school, to ballet, to church, leaving exactly 30 minutes to scarf dinner in the car.
I searched for a solution that didn’t break our budget feeding a family of 5 dinner out and discovered the power of pizza. One large pizza for about $9 feeds all of us.
But systems like this take some trial and error before they are perfected. At first, I ordered a pizza with half pepperoni and half cheese, trying to please everyone’s pizza palate.
The trouble was that we then ended up with too many slices of cheese and not enough pepperoni.
Sigh. Middle class problems.
(Actually, I’d prefer mushroom pizza, but I choose not to push it.)
So, one week I dared to change things up a bit. I asked for a whole pizza of pepperoni and decided my cheesy daughters would simply have to pick off the meat.
Not long after I ordered the pizza, though, the phone rang. It was the manager from the pizza place.
“I’m looking at your order here, hon, and I noticed it’s for a whole pepperoni pizza this time. I just wanted to make sure I made your pizza right and that this wasn’t a mistake.”
Whoa. She had been paying attention to me. More than just a cheerful greeting when I walked in each week, she’d actually cared enough to know what I typically order and to notice when it changed.
So, I casually mentioned my predicament. I only need two slices of cheese pizza. A whole pepperoni pizza is too much pepperoni. A half and half pizza is too much cheese.
What’s a mom to do?
“No problem,” she says, “I’ll make a pizza with just two slices without pepperoni.”
And she did. Every single week from September to April she made us a custom-order pizza without being asked.
Last week, though, I walked in to pick up our pizza and our amazing pizza lady wasn’t there. People we didn’t recognize were making pizzas and slipping them into cardboard boxes, so I knew we were probably not getting our two special cheese slices that week.
The next day, my phone rang. It was the pizza manager again. She was apologizing to me…profusely…that she had been away at a meeting and no one else had remembered about our special pizza order.
Really, I assured her, it’s fine. I’m amazed by you, truly.
When I picked up the next week’s pizza order, she had it waiting for me on the counter, fresh and hot. And on top of the large pizza was a small box with a personal cheese pizza just for my daughter as an apology for the lack of cheese slices the week before.
In a world with so many people, so much selfishness, so much demand to fit into labels and boxes, so much pressure to conform, so much mass-marketing and crowd appeal, one personal touch stopped me during my weekly rush from place to place.
I put the pizzas in the minivan and halted at the door, shaking my head. One incredible pizza manager was digging deep in my soul.
Because ministry and Christianity and Jesus aren’t about statistics, labels, boxes, conformity, arena crowds, generalizations or stereotypes.
With Jesus, it’s always personal.
How often do we forget this?
…Treating ministry like it’s successful only when it’s big ministry, only when the numbers measure up.
…Expecting God to work the same old way for every single person, judging others for making different choices than we do, acting like our way is the only right way.
…Pulling out textbooks instead of listening to people.
…Shoving others into the confines of expectations and labels and never allowing a bit of room for grace or for growth or redemption….
In Deep & Wide, Andy Stanley reminds me that Jesus:
chose twelve apostles from among hundreds of disciples. He gave preferential treatment to three of the twelve. He didn’t heal everyone. He didn’t feed every hungry crowd. He stopped in the middle of a virtual parade and invited himself over to Zacchaeus’ house. Why him? He ensured that strangers would live and allowed Lazarus to die.
Why didn’t Jesus treat everyone the same?
Because we’re not the same. We’re uniquely created by Him and He loves us, knows us, cares about us…
We can say it, recite it, sing it–echoing Jesus’ words: “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” (John 13:34 HCSB).
But we need to mean it.
Love others just as Jesus loved us: sacrificially, humbly, with grace, and yes—personally.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King