Dirty Dishes, Happier Marriages and Servant Leadership


If there’s one chore that has taught me more about life, it’s washing the dishes. And tonight as I washed the dishes after dinner- which I do most of the time- I pondered upon some new insights. Some I’d like to share to you.

My Spiritual Encounter When Washing Dishes

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for dishes. I’m quick to go straight for the sink and soap when I’m at house gatherings, outings or even at my own home. I don’t enjoy washing dishes, but you can say I’m wired into it.

Why? Because majority of the time, I’m the one washing the dishes at home. I wrote a blog a while back about one of my greatest spiritual encounters. It wasn’t during a time of worship, prophetic presbytery or crusade. It was when I was washing the dishes.

Reciprocity The Key? Maybe

Is there anything special about washing dishes? Well, no. But I have learned one important leadership, marriage and life lesson from washing dishes. Think of it in this light: I’ve heard of couples who keep tabs on house chores. Wifey washes the dishes today and hubby tomorrow. Or wifey does laundry as long as hubby washes the car. Or here’s another one: hubby brings home the bacon while wifey keeps the house, car, laundry and kid clean.

It’s always an exchange. I’ve heard it said that marriage is reciprocity. And I believe in reciprocity. But I have learned early on in life that expecting reciprocity is like praying for rain to fall on one specific area only.

It’s More Than Dishes

The point I’m driving is not that husbands should be like me and wash the dishes, clean the toilets, fix the bed and so on. I’m not claiming to be a special breed of husband cut from a special cloth. I’m fallen in many areas and need improvement in so many others too.

But one thing that God has graced me with is an inner revelation of what it means to be a husband and leader. It’s to serve and love unconditionally. We hear that a lot and you might be the husband who has claimed that he will love his wife like Christ loved the church. You could have said it at the altar or at marriage counseling. It doesn’t matter where you say it. What matters is in what application it translates to.

And the best way to translate unconditional love is unconditional service. Washing the plates even if you worked 12 hours today. Affirming and showing affection to your kids when they break your laptop (even if you wish you could break something else of theirs. Not their legs I hope). Being patient with a co-worker who throws spite at you and gossips about you.

When You Don’t Feel Like Serving

We will always have fifty reasons to not serve. It’s not my job. He or she doesn’t deserve it. I’m too tired. I’m too broke. I’m too important for that. Nobody will appreciate it. We have so many reasons to leave the dishes on the sink and wait for the wife or maid (it’s sad if you see them to be one person) to do it.

But we have one compelling reason that overshadows all excuses to not serve. And it’s found in Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God’s ultimate service to us was not even close to logical, but He did it anyways. He served us. What’s to stop us now from serving Him and serving others?

As we start a new week, I throw this challenge (including myself). I challenge husbands to wash dishes. I challenge mothers to be patient with children. I challenge pastors to meet with that alcoholic who won’t change and listen to him some more. I challenge bosses to pray and serve their employees. I challenge employees to serve irate customers. I will challenge myself as well as I admit I fail in many of those areas (except washing dishes).

Serve. You’ll lose a little bit, but you’ll be surprised how much more you’ll gain.

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