Life and Faith Lessons From An Unexpected Place: Marinating And Barbecuing

Barbecuing Steak

I love me some marinated stuff.

A good marinade can transform a bland filet of fish or steak into a fiercely delicious delicacy.
Just let your mouth water as you think about marinated potatoes, marinated steak…fish, marinated chicken. Think about the flames engulfing marinated ribs and just let the saliva gather at the base of your mouth….

Ok enough….you get the picture. So what in the world does this have to do with life or faith lessons?Well, turns out there are a few. As I process what goes into making a great marinated delicacy, I cant help but notice the parallels.

First of all though, what is marinade in this context?

Its your Character…your Personality…What makes you tick….What makes you YOU.

Ok…here we go:

1) You have got to know the ingredients that make up your character:

The ingredients that make up a marinade is important. Different ingredients have different effects. Acidic liquids like Vinegar, Wine or Lemon Juice are great for tenderizing the meat. They do this by breaking down protein bonds. It’s this break down that makes the meat tender. Apparently, there are good tenderizing enzymes in ginger, pineapple and even payaya.

Here is the thing though…its possible to go overboard with these. For example, if you put steak in a highly acidic marinade for too long, the whole process will backfire and the meat will get tougher.

So similar to how we are as people. It’s really important to understand the ingredients that actually make up our personality or character. Where did you get all those views from? Where or what were the defining moments in your life that made you the way you are in the different areas of your life?

If you have never asked this question, you will keep ending up hurting yourself and others, and running to the “Thats just who I am excuse”.

2) Many times, its our pain that makes us capable of learning:

When marinating, what do we do? We cut nicks into the steak so the marinade can really penetrate deep. We poke at the steak with a knife in multiple places to make sure that the marinade gets to go deep.

Same with us in life. Think about some of the most important unmovable values you hold dear and more than likely, pain is not far from it. Got dumped by that High School crush and your heart now has more security than Fort Knox. Get swindled by that business partner and you turn into the “slit throat” person in business.  This can be a good thing…when we learn good lessons … like not putting our hands in fire.

But it can also be a terrible thing…when pain and the sharp poking events of life let negative values penetrate deep inside us.

I know this is easier said than done…but you have to acknowledge the pain without letting it penetrate so deep that it affects how you taste when others have a piece of you.

3) Everywhere you go, there you are:

This is one of the most important life lessons I have learnt in recent times.

Think about that marinade and the steak. Every good cook knows that the idea is to make sure that the marinade gets ALL over the steak. You don’t want one side to be properly marinated and the other side bland. No. So you roll the steak around, you brush the marinade over, you fully cover that bad boy with the marinade.

The utter smearing is to ensure it covers enough surface area…the sitting is so the good stuff covers enough depth.

Life is no different.

That saying….”Everywhere you go, there you are”…simply means that you cannot escape your real self. In every situation you are in, eventually, the real…deep seated you will always come out.

The marinade is all over. It got everywhere. It will show up at home, at work, in your bank account, in church, in school…everywhere.

That’s why it’s so important for us to be careful about what we take on as deep values.

Many times in life, it’s not the people or the situations we face that are the problem. Many times its US!…it’s the marinade in us that’s not gelling well with the people or situations in front of us.

4) It may take time before your full potential is realized:

Think about that steak. You marinate that sucker, you toss it in the fridge, and just let it sit. Often for hours before you need to cook it. It’s just there…sitting and waiting.

For many people, perhaps the most frustrating thing about pursuing your purpose is that it can take a while for it to properly manifest. It can take time for the really hard work to pay off…for the real flavor to set in and MAKE us great.

So there we are in life’s fridge…for what feels like forever. It seems we are just existing…going through the motions of life. Its sooo frustrating when you know you are made for something great but right now you are just sitting in the cold fridge of life next to the spoiling milk.

Take heart. The difference between you and the spoiling milk is that the spoiling milk is that the milk is there for random consumption and belongs in the fridge, while the marinating steak is being carefully and respectfully prepared for a specific pleasurable purpose. Marinating steaks don’t sit in fridges for long.

5) The good things in life are often made or tested by fire:

TTTTTTSSSSZZZZZZZ…That sizzling sound that happens when fire meets the moisture and liquid marinade. Music to your ears as the fire licks up the surface of the steak.

The fire…the heat…. is the ultimate test.

So it is for our lives as well. In order for our dreams, aspirations, and values to hold, they must be tested by fire. They must past through some heat.

Same thing happens to Gold…to precious metals, to marriages, relationships, startup businesses and almost anything we hold dear.

For something to be strong, to be pure, to be durable and in the case of steak…consumable, they have to be passed through some heat.

Even the Bible makes reference to this:

1 Cor 3:12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

The love/power of God is like the flame/heat that lashes out of the barbecue pit and licks up the marinade on the surface and cooks the meat.

The heat of life brings out the oil and all the good stuff on the inside. It turns our raw talents and raw materials raw into finished…better refined versions of ourselves. It cleans up any impurities.

It marries our natural taste, with our acquired taste to create a unique flavor in us.

So don’t freak out when your life is going through some fire or some heat. Focus on making it out of that stage and you will come out better than before.

6) It is shared:

Ever been to a barbecue party? Sure it’s nice to see everyone, hang out, laugh, but let me tell you. There is something about that moment when the barbecue is ready and everyone can come have some. That moment of sharing the barbecue is what it’s all about. It brings people together, it satisfies the hungry, and nourishes the body.

The hours of prep…the marinating, the waiting, the heat of the flames…all that becomes worth it when it can be shared.

Same is true for us. Think about those incredible life stories you’ve heard of. Those true stories of extreme life heat. People who overcame almost impossible situations or disabilities.

–A dance team comprised of a man with no leg and and a woman with no arm

–Hellen Keller. Blind and Deaf but learns to communicate

–Li Ka-shing: Top 3 wealthiest men in Asia. Had to leave school at age 15 to do back breaking work 16 hrs a day to help family (See

–An incredible gymnast without legs:

(see links below)

and the millions of people around the world who are making it through near impossible situations.

Ask those people and they will tell you that sharing their story with the world to help others is perhaps not only the best therapy for them, but also the greatest source of self-value for them.

So when you go through your heat, let it change you and make you better. When it does, share it with the world.

The new you will bring people together, satisfy the hungry, and nourish souls.

So get marinade for your life…surround yourself with places and people that will add value and good taste to your life. Put yourself in situations where you can acquire new flavor and good sizzle to your life, and make the world better for it.

Thank you in advance for making it through the heat of your life. Looking forward to your success.


–Ballet: She without arm, he without leg:

–Li Ka-shing: Incredible rags to riches story

–An incredible gymnast without legs: