I’ve worked in customer service for years and years and years. Every job I’ve held has been one where I’m the person who is the concierge between a consumer and the provider. At 18…my way of serving was very different than how I do it now.
Back then my thinking was always, “How can this customer make it quick so I can continue writing out my grocery list, read this book or stare off into space?” “Why do they have to pick me to help them…can’t they see I’m busy (staring off into space)?” “It’s 10 minutes until we close…If I sigh and look at the clock enough will they get the hint and leave (so I can stare off into space)?”
Hold your applause for me…barista of the month and salesperson of the year. What makes these moments of reminiscing embarrassing…other than the reminder of my once fantastic work ethic…is remembering about how often I fought back with superiors as they attempted to give me constructive criticism and feedback.
At 21, I began going back to church and exploring Christianity in my life. I became aware of how being a Christ follower bled into the way I worked. Realizing that I was a selfish brat and a shoddy worker…I pursued some work mentoring. Working in sales, at the time, and for commission, meant I had a way to gage my growth. How I defined serving evolved a little and I began to think differently in every situation where I was serving a consumer. My thoughts were more “I’m working on homework…but this is my job so I’ll get up and go help with a smile.” “I’m busy…but this person needs what I’m selling…so I’ll sacrifice some of my time.” “I’m off in 10 minutes…but I need to be mature and NOT look at the clock and huff.” Laugh all you want…I know you’re making fun of my customer service skeeeeels aren’t you? It’s ok…it’s called evolution and I’m not ashamed to admit it took me some time to evolve from simply selling to a mindframe of SERVITUDE.
God…with His sense of humor and loving way of coaching…intervened in my life to reveal that there was something to be gained from these serving jobs…some kind of lesson here. Through friends..adults who had infinite amounts of patience…and a boy named J…I began to see examples of what true selflessness and humility looked like in a customer service environment. From these lessons in the work place I finally opened my eyes and realized what serving looked like when it was carried over to a community and ministry. It would be more than a decade for all these pieces to come together…but here we are. Finally…my years of customer service graduating me into a world that needs SERVITUDE -someone to become completely subject to someone more powerful (God) and to HIS loved ones.
As I’ve chosen to commit to a word a day (see commitment issue confession in previous post) I find myself sitting with “SERVITUDE” today. I know how to serve a coffee, a presentation and a product to a consumer…but I did those things in a way that served MY needs first and the consumers second…how will I serve a community of people? That piece has to come together and be thought through every day that I wake up. I see the importance of personifying that word when I’m in front of a hungry man who is lying in filth and needs sock and food service. I can tell him…”It doesn’t matter what I have on my to-do list…because you and your needs are all that matter right now.” I understand the importance as I’m tutoring a woman still fighting drug addiction and needs love and attention served. I can tell her….”I’m so glad I was picked to serve you during this 2 hour stretch….your learning and growth are my only agenda right now.” When I encounter a 20 year old who is at a loss as to what a resume is or how to draft one, I now think…”We got this…and if it takes us an hour we’ll get it done right….I’ll help with whatever you need.”
I’m learning SERVITUDE..enslavement…the act of giving myself completely..and my 18 year old coffee serving self would be shocked at how much I’m enjoying the process.