It must not be easy to work in a fast food court. Myriads of customers demand their food in a rush, expecting the service to be quick and the food to be hot and delicious. Hardly anyone takes the time to thank the servers, much less to chat with them. How could they? The customers are in too much of a rush! Complaints must be numerous, because rushing to fill orders only leads to mistakes. I expect that there is often more than a little wistful violence in the thoughts of the servers: “If only I could wring their necks!”
The men’s club, consisting of my two boys and myself, were enjoying a wonderful day in Seattle. We had taken a ferry into the city that morning, and we had already enjoyed the Space Needle and the Old Curiosity Shop, a must see for anyone loving exotic things!
The above-ground metro that we took from the Space Needle carried us in a food court. The place was packed with people and the ethnic food choices were numerous, but after much debate, we decided on Mexican. When it came our turn to order, I asked for three super-sized burritos. The next decisions to be made had to do with what would fill those burritos, and here is where I decided to try my limited Spanish with the server, who was clearly Mexican: “Un poquito de cada uno por favor.” (A little bit of each one please)
Immediately the server’s frown changed to a broad smile: “Muy bien! (Very good!)” he said, and his smile remained as he began literally piling ingredients into my burrito.
When we sat down at a table that had just been vacated, my boys compared their burritos with mine. “Papa, yours is twice as full as ours! How come?”
I realized then that just by talking to the server in his native language, I had brightened his day. He had rewarded me with an overfilled burrito!
Being nice to others really pays off, don’t you think? Why hadn’t I thought about this before? Imagine the many lost opportunities! God’s inspired Word encourages us to think of others before ourselves: “in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Phil 2:3 NIV) and to keep on smiling: “Keep a smile on your face.” (Rom 12:8 The Message)
But this wasn’t really a first-time revelation. I’ve often noticed that when you take the time to talk to a salesclerk at a checkout counter, the clerk’s entire demeanor usually changes. If you smile at them and say something pleasant, they usually begin to smile back. No, it doesn’t work every time, but it’s worth the try for the many times when it will work! Maybe this is why Jesus urges each one of His followers to love beyond our limits:
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them… But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:32, 35 NIV)
Think about it: How can we reach out to others if we are always frowning? Wouldn’t that deter them from even talking to us? How can we invite someone to church with a lemon face? “Come to my church. You’ll love it!” Wouldn’t the reply be automatic? “How could I love it if you seem so miserable all the time?”
Our actions speak louder than our words, friends. It is our actions that often determine if we are influencing someone to Christ or to hell. Unless we really care for people, we cannot impact their lives! “It does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin!” (1 Cor 8:11 The Message)
It’s true that it’s hard to try and spread cheer all of the time. It’s impossible, really, unless we are tapped into the source of happiness. So if we don’t see others as creatures loved by God and thus, worthy of a little cheer, if we don’t speak about the Lover of our soul with enthusiasm, then it becomes apparent that we don’t really know Him well enough for Him to make a difference in our lives. It becomes clear that there is something wrong in our relationship with Him!
It’s checkout time! Will you be smiling or frowning? Will you take the time to bring sunshine, or will you just add to their sense of “rush, rush, rush”?
Does rushing even makes a difference in our time table?