Dear children, let us not love
with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18 (NIV)
Today’s world moves faster than it ever has before. We have devices that can send photos of our kids to distant family in an instant and a Google search for “orange shoes” pulls up 1,570,000,000 results in 0.83 seconds. In the craziness that comes with this pace of life, we often forget to slow down and appreciate the moments that we are in and to appreciate those around us.
As our lives continue to accelerate, how can we slow down to love those around us with the supernatural love of Christ?
Lately I’ve been thinking about people who deserve our appreciation and gratitude. In fact, I have come to be intentionally thankful for the men and women that provide service. They are the men and women who ring you out at the grocery store, those who miss the big game because they’re busy making your hot pizza for halftime, the people that clean up the sticky lunch tables at sports bars, and the people that have filthy hands from changing your oil in between your kids events. These sustainers are around us every single day. They provide us with services or products that have become essential to our pace of life.
These people are often in thankless positions, often receiving negative feedback from an angry customer or a sassy comment about their attitude or speed. Rarely are they are praised for their work in a genuine way that shows they are valued. Having worked at a large, blue, electronics retail store in college doing customer service, I have experienced this firsthand.
I have made a habit of thanking the people who work at a drive-thru for the meal that they and their team have prepared. Not just a mindless thank you, but I make eye contact and say, “Thank you for preparing my dinner. It really saved me a lot of time tonight.” It’s amazing to see how the wait staff perks up in response to my acknowledgement, understanding the importance and value in the work that they are doing.
I am a regular at Von Hanson’s to buy beef jerky. It’s a great snack when playing disc golf with friends. The staff will now inquire weekly as to where I am going and remind me how crazy I am for playing in the winter. Recently, we had extra doughnuts from Hangtime between services at Friendship Church. Instead of bringing them home to get stale on the counter, I decided to bring them to Von Hanson’s as a thank you for their service and friendship. In a turn of events, they were quite surprised to receive treats and their joy and appreciation only encourages me to continue to think of who else I can bless with surprise snacks.
I’ve spent the last 6 years working in corporate IT. Looking for ways to shine the light of Christ can sometimes be hard, but I found a practical way to do that in an office setting. I started acknowledging and verbally thanking the people who work nights, cleaning the office and bathrooms. Most people tend to ignore them. I learn their names and thank them for their hard work every time I see them in the hallway. It has become a great way to start conversations and bring life to their jobs in a new and fresh way.
The day after Christmas my wife and I went out to eat at a local chain. The place was packed and the wait was out the door. Apparently, people hadn’t eaten enough carbs, ourselves included. Our server took a little longer than I would have preferred. I took this as an opportunity to have a real conversation with Micki about her day and not just the weather or traffic. Turns out she was on her ninth hour of a likely thirteen-hour shift on her feet, serving upwards of ten parties at once and was quite aware that things weren’t moving at the speed that everyone wanted. Micki let her guard down and connected with us on a human level, instead of constantly being in service mode. It was a refreshing time to connect with a stranger over the chaos of a busy restaurant and to acknowledge that she was working hard to assist everyone the very best that she could.
The value in real connection
It’s important to look for opportunities to encourage and love others. When the love of Christ is shared, people walk a little taller in the work they are doing, they engage in authentic conversation and feel valued. I believe this is how Christ would operate in today’s world.
How can we, together, intentionally show Christ-like love in our daily routines?
Let’s begin to change the way we operate when we start to feel entitled or impatient. Let’s create an interaction that is led with love.Topics: Connect, serve