Showing Love To Those Who Serve Us

Do you ever stop to consider how you represent your faith to the world around you? We can sometimes forget that we represent more than just ourselves as we move through life. We also represent every other person who bears the name of “Christian.” If people see that we are hateful, hypocritical, unforgiving or judgmental, they won’t simply attribute those failings to our own personal character flaws; it will mar the reputation of Christianity itself as they see it.

A double standard?
As Christians, we are called to live in such a way that sets us apart from others and to walk in love, patience, understanding and hope. We are called to love our enemies and to forgive those who persecute us – except, of course, for that barista who forgets to put skim milk in our chai lattés. We are well within our rights to unleash our wrath upon them, right? That sales associate at the mall is clearly the one responsible for the store not having the item we want to buy, so screaming at them is reasonable, isn’t it? No? So then why do we do this? Why is it that we can strive to love the people around us, give of our time and money in our efforts to serve others, and yet maintain a blind spot for so many people that we interact with on a daily basis?

Perhaps this is because it is commonplace to see someone insult or talk down to a barista or server, and viewed as an acceptable reaction if the person in question has made a mistake. However, we believe in a God that came to serve others, that washed the feet of his disciples and called us to live as he did, so who are we to condescend to anyone? Why is it that, when we make mistakes, we want grace and understanding, yet often refuse to show the same to others when something as trivial as coffee is concerned?

Adding insult to injury
This may or may not come as a surprise, but Christians have a terrible reputation among those in the restaurant industry. We are known for showing up in large groups after church events, being rude and impatient, and –though we are supposed to be a generous people – our tipping habits don’t usually reflect this. It’s not even remotely uncommon to hear of Christians leaving a dreadful tip, but compensating for it with an evangelical pamphlet or a card inviting their server to attend a church. While one can assume, or at least hope, that the intentions here are noble, it doesn’t make much sense to think that anything we believe will be of any interest to someone if we don’t treat them with common courtesy and respect. It’s also worth noting that most servers make significantly less than minimum wage and depend on their tips as their primary income. A Bible tract is a fine thing to leave your server along with a tip, but it won’t pay their electric bill. Leaving a “spiritual” piece of paper in place of a genuine token of appreciation in the form of cash will most likely harden their heart towards the gospel message as instead of making them more receptive to it.

Serving while being served
Instead, try to think what it would look like if we went to a restaurant and treated the server with patience and respect. What if we took an extra few minutes at the end of the meal to stack our own plates and cups, and put the tables back from where we moved them? What if, before leaving, we looked our server in the eye, shook their hand, thanked them by name for their service and left a generous tip? What if, after all of that, we left a Bible tract or invited them to church? Even if they don’t immediately respond, our example will no doubt start to change their view of Christians, and perhaps even of the God we claim to follow. Wouldn’t that be something?

There is an old saying that we should all take to heart: “Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use words.” The greatest way that we can share Christ with the people we meet is to treat them with patience, kindness and respect. Only then will our words and beliefs have meaning to them. Coming into a new year, imagine the impact on the world if we all roll up our sleeves and start changing the way people view Christianity, one meal or cup of coffee at a time.

Rick blogs regularly at Culturemakerblog.com and tweets at @letsmakeadeal26.

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One Response to “Showing Love To Those Who Serve Us”

  1. fscottjr

    We must remember that the Christ in us is the first Christ that many will see. So it is our responsibility to help Him make a good first impression.

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