I was paying for my drink at a gas station convenience store. The clerk was friendly and efficient. She told me the cost, took my money, handed me the receipt and I was all set. She was also very talkative. Just not to me. Several times I asked her, “pardon me?” to which she responded, “oh nothing, I was talking to her” gesturing to her co-clerk. The ENTIRE time she waited on me, she had great eye contact. She looked right at me and talked to someone else. So I got great service–for being the invisible woman.
Why did this trigger a post? Because I skated through ministry work on ability alone without getting messy with all “those people” involved. Probably 10 or so years back, I sat as a production leader in my church where we planned out the creative elements of our service. I had done it for so long I could do it in my sleep. Hmm. I could pick out songs, merge them with drama or dance ideas, transitions blah blah blah. Then if I was on the schedule for that Sunday, I would sit as “producer” on a headset and we’d have our services. I painfully remember one morning we hadn’t opened the doors to the auditorium yet. Some of our congregation who didn’t know the drill, would just walk in without permission from the ushers. How dare they. I was so ticked that the ushers didn’t have their act together that I nastily commented to someone on our team “who is letting those people in?” Those people.
Those people were new people. With ears. And heard me. And they apologetically asked, “I’m sorry, we’ve never been here before. What should we do?” And so I tried to back pedal and introduce them to someone who could walk them through the check in process for their kids, etc. I have rarely felt worse. Those people. I never saw them again.
Thus started a very long journey for me to remember why we do what we do in the church. Or rather why I did what I did. I was doing my job in the name of excellence and running on automatic. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to treat our guests–I’d been to meetings, conferences, workshops. I took notes! But under stress, my natural reaction came out which reflected the true state of my heart. I was what the bible refers to in that situation as a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal(1 Cor 13). An ugly and irritating(possibly painful)sound at best. Thankfully, a good friend and leader confronted me on this. I hated it and her and I fought her on it. It took years to “get”–some of the most painful years of my life which have given way to some of the best.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – Jesus, John 13:34-35