Imagine for a moment that you’re in a big box store, a restaurant, or your doctor’s office. You have a question about something, and so you approach an employee. “Excuse me,” you begin…
But the employee interrupts you. As they’re zipping up their hoodie or removing their apron, they are quick to interject, “Sorry, just ended my shift. Someone else will be along to help you in a minute.”
If you’re like me, you’d be a little ticked. Aggravated. Incensed that the team member couldn’t take five extra seconds to answer a simple question. “Just in it for the money,“ you’d mumble.
Now switch the scenario. You’re at church on the weekend, and you’re serving on the guest service team. You’ve put in your time. You’ve committed to attend one, serve one. And now that you’ve served one, you’re ready to attend one. So the name tag comes off, the parking vest gets hung, and you make your way to the auditorium.
But instead of engaging with unfamiliar faces, you huddle with your friends. Rather than look for someone who needs a kind smile or a helping hand, you stare at the screen or the bulletin and mindlessly read the announcements. After all, you’ve put in your time. This is when you decompress. “Not my problem anymore,” you think.
There’s little difference in an unhelpful public sector employee and a volunteer with an “offstage” mindset. If we serve because we love people, we can’t stop loving people just because we’re not serving. Love and service is a part of who we are, it’s not just what we do. And it can’t be relegated to a 90 minute slot on Sunday mornings. It can’t be something we put on and take off as easily as a name tag. No, we must always be watching, waiting, ready to assist and serve those who need us the most.
This weekend, feel free to take off the name tag. But don’t check out from people. Love ’em. Serve ’em. And do it because you get to, not because you have to.