You Love the Person Who will Use it Next

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook, as one does, and I saw an image liked by a friend that stopped me in my tracks. And I’ve been thinking about it, days later.

It’s a lovely watercolor of pots, pans, and cooking utensils stacked mishmash, with a quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta (yep, that’s Mother Teresa):

“Wash the plate not because it is dirty nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.” -St. Teresa of Calcutta

“Wash the plate not because it is dirty nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.” -St. Teresa of Calcutta

Dishes are my least-favorite chore. Give me a day’s worth of laundry any day over scrubbing grease and who-knows-what off that casserole dish. I even dread loading and unloading the dishwasher, even when the kids are mostly in charge of that now. I don’t know why… I just don’t love doing the dishes.

Which is precisely why I think this quote stopped me like it did. It’s made me recenter my motivation for doing the dishes:

It’s because I love these people I live with, who will most likely use them next.

Of course, I’d give you this answer if you probed deep enough. This isn’t new to me. But still …I need reminders, more often than I care to admit.

What if we approached our ordinary liturgies with this same mindset? Not trying to force some non-existent love out of the task itself, but because we love who we’re doing it for?

What if I didn’t do my work because it’s time to make the doughnuts, or because I have to or else I won’t make money—but because I love the people I’m working for?

What if I care about my neighbors, not because “the Bible says to” or because it’s what I’m “supposed” to do—but because I actually love them? I actually enjoy spending time with them?

childrens books

What if I listened to my six-year-old sloooowly sound out phonetic sounds as he practices reading, taking ten minutes to read four short sentences—simply because I loved him?

We do this most of the time, I’d wager. It’s just easy to forget in the thick of it.

And yes, I’d argue sometimes we need those “have to” reasons when it’s crazy-hard to love. Not all neighbors are easy. Sometimes family is frustrating. Busyness and obligations can get the in way of pure motive.

But… Do a task simply for the love the person we’re doing it for. Not because we’re supposed to.

What a novel idea.

I need this reminder sometimes.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. AnnaKathryn

    Love this. That quote needs a spot in my kitchen for sure.

  2. Rita

    Perfect post for me today – I definitely needed that reminder as well! Thank you!

  3. Saskia

    I love this! I absolutely love fixing nourishing meals for my family and put a ton of love into my cooking. Somehow, I’ve never really minded dishes because I see it as an extension of the nourishment. But this thought adds a whole new dimension to it!

  4. priest's wife @byzcathwife

    what a wonderful reminder! I know it was a good day when I appreciate the hot water and lovely smelling Mrs Meyers that I used to wash up. What a luxury!

  5. Mandi

    This is beautiful!! I love it, and I’m seriously thinking about hanging this quote up in my kitchen!

  6. Ally

    Thanks so much for sharing this hit me right in the right spot today! Totally going to purchase that print, MT is my spiritual mentor and I’ve never heard this quote before, thanks for sharing.

  7. Sarah

    Thank you!

  8. Daikuro @

    Really interesting. To do things out of love is not something that most will do out of the unconsciousness of daily life. But once it is done, it can change your life and those around you. It is doing the littlest things with love.

  9. Sean Corwin

    Not that I mind doing dishes. The sink overlooks the bird feeding station, and however long it takes me 10 minutes or an hour. I’m always amazed at God’s smaller and vulnerable, but beautiful creatures.

  10. Daniel Gardner

    This touched my life

  11. Jami

    Love this so much, Tsh! I am sharing this with my audience -thank you.

  12. Jess

    Thank you for sharing. I need that reminder daily.

  13. Carrie

    I just ordered that print and it’s going up right in my kitchen!

  14. Lisa

    You’re the reason we live in an RV and travel, sweet Tsh. I read/listen to you weekly so it’s not surprising I’d get something out of your writing today when I have so many times before but this is extra special. It’s a MT quote I’d never heard before and that’s saying something because I adore that lady and can’t wait to meet her in Eternity! What a beautiful, simple and important way to approach life’s chores; we are doing it for those we love. Thank you for this important thought.

  15. Monique B.

    Ah, what a blessing to read your blog, Tsh! Reading this, I find new motivation, too! Rather than grumbling, I can recite this quote! I also remind myself to say “I don’t HAVE to, I GET to…” It reminds me that I GET to take care of my family…it is a blessing and a gift, not a burden, nor a “have to” ♡ Thank you Tsh, for your insights, as always!!!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It’s already linked in the post, but thanks!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I know the book!

  16. Denise

    So beautiful. And what a great reminder. I need this!

  17. Barbara Murphy

    It does put into perspective the act of cleaning the dishes… I used to dislike it, but now I kinda see it differently, and I didn’t know exactly why until I read this!

  18. Jessi Fearon

    Oh how I find myself in those “mommy martyr” moments! Thank you for the reminder that this really is an act of love and to treat it as such. 🙂

  19. Cortney

    Beautiful words- a reminder that I so needed tonight as I stare at a counter full of dishes!

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