Leaders Eat Last

Scarcity is a profound fear that shows up in every single space in one’s life.

It can make you hoard, gorge, and even lie and steal to protect and acquire what you need, deserve, or desire to live.  It’s a survival skill that when no longer needed is painful to watch and difficult to tolerate.

The first place I see it and the last place I see freedom from it, is in the kitchen.

Our girls will eat until they throw up and still need to save some for later to feel safe. They break into kitchens and spend any money they acquire on food - specifically sugar. Sugar is often used to soothe hungry kids when there is no money for actual nutrition.

Over the summer at camp we shared many meals with guests, friends and visitors. I never got the courage to let the girls serve themselves. I didn’t trust they would take reasonable amounts, consider the guests, stop eating when they were full or not stuff food in their backpacks for later. I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I didn’t want them to be embarrassed and yet some of that did happen even as I tried to control it.

Tonya and other adults would often serve all the kids. Tonya was also in charge of the snack so she served a lot of food during the week. Tonya is the team leader - the boss. She carries all the supplies in her bag and has invested eight years in trips to pour into these girls and they feel her love deep!

One night as we circled up to reflect on the day. The girls began to talk about Tonya and her character. She truly displayed all the “fruit of the spirit”. Love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, self control….

Then one girl.  The one who is struggling the most with food fear, raised her hand. “She always eats last.”  I knew how significant that was and how deeply loved it made this girl feel. She was still counting and celebrating the days she didn’t eat until throwing up.  But Tonya was choosing to eat last.  She was the boss, she had every right to go first and grab her fill, but she chose to eat last. That’s love!

"Leaders always eat last!” It’s the way God’s kingdom works. Remember how Jesus lived his life? A true example of servant leadership.  I saw her eyes whisper, “I want to be like that!” 

Since camp she is taking deep breaths and stepping away from the front of the food line and making eye contact with others to see if it’s “ok “before she adds another scoop of rice on her plate.  

There is freedom in being able to count the cost. She no longer needs to wonder if there will be another meal. 

She can freely choose to serve & love those she shares a table with. She can choose to eat last!