The Queen's teatime reminds us of some life lessons regarding the dangers of stirring and the value of serving

©Joy Dunlap

“How did Queen Elizabeth stir her tea?”  That was one question on the “Queen for a Day” interactive quiz I shared at a women’s tea event in September.

I added three incorrect answers to go with the right one:

  • In a circular motion
  • With backward and forward motions
  • No stirring
  • The butler stirred it before serving


The correct answer as to how Queen Elizabeth mixed her tea and milk is with backward and forward motions.  The 12-6 repeat motion is not only the way the Queen handled it, it’s also the way etiquette experts and tea companies promote.

Yet most of us persist in stirring our tea circularly.

If we’re not careful we stir our lives that way too.  We ruminate over problems and issues.  Spin up old wounds and hurts.  Churn with anger and frustration. 


One reason given as to why tea is moved backward and forward instead of in a circular motion is that it is less likely to clang the cup. 

Likewise, when we stir up things, whether in our minds or in our lives, we’re likely making a lot of noise – and it’s unpleasant.  

Grumbling. Complaining.  Gossiping.

Blaming.  Criticizing.  Lamenting.

Then there’s the inner churning.

Around and around.

Looping thoughts can spiral and attack our peace of mind.  Anxiety shouts louder than reality.  Worry interrupts our sense of serenity.


Experts tell us when we gently move the spoon forward and backward a few times, we prevent the tea mixture from swirling and pouring over the sides. 

When we stir up negativity in our lives, or let our minds spin it round and round, it’s almost certain that will overflow to other parts of our lives – and to the lives of others around us. 

A backward and forward motion causes us to at least move forward at some point. We may glance or take a step backward but we don’t stay there.


I’ve got experience with making messes – and did it at that tea too.

While seated with my well dressed tablemates in a private banquet room at the four-star inn, I carefully selected a tea bag and tore the package open. As I lifted the bag to drop it into the cup (we didn’t have teapots), the bag broke.  Like brown confetti, the tea flew into the cup, on the saucer, on the table, in my plate. My beautiful place setting was marred with the mess.

The server had to replace it. 

A new cup and plate.  Fresh. Clean.

Even when seated and dining with royalty, mess-ups happen. In a charming promo for the Queen’s Jubilee, the lovable Paddington Bear messed up when taking tea with Queen Elizabeth.

If you haven’t seen the short video, it’s worth a look.

The lovable, yet bumbling character guzzled almost all the tea directly from the teapot’s spout.  When he realized he’d acted irresponsibility and in poor manners, he tried to pour some for the Queen but only a little stream followed by a few drops came out.

Although the King of Kings invites us to the banquet table and provides us with gifts to enjoy and share, do we sometimes grab what we can for ourselves and fail to share them with others, or neglect to use them to serve Him?

Do we at times pour only leftovers for the Lord?  Offer God mere drops of what we’ve been so graciously given?  

Seems like those lessons about teatime protocol and tea with royalty have some correlations with Biblical truth.

Let’s consider what Scripture tells us of the negative effects of stirring up: 

A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.

A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.

A violent person entices their neighbor and leads them down a path that is not good. Proverbs 16:27-29 NIV

Who has the power to clean up our messes and restore our table setting? 

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18 NIV

What Biblical actions can we take instead of swirling negative thoughts? 

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. Hebrews 3:1 NIV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 NIV

Who should we serve first and foremost?

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. Ephesians 6:7 NIV

And, how should we serve? 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

  • Have you ever met a famous person?  If so, who?  What do you remember most about that encounter?
  • What accident or faux pas have you made at an event?
  • Are you more of a guzzler or a giver at God’s table?
  • In what ways can you better use what God has given you to serve Him, and others in His name?

Serve the LORD with gladness; come before his presence with joy. Psalm 100:2 Jubilee Bible 2000

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. Psalm 130:3 NIV


Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™

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