As I type, I’m sitting in Starbucks, and I’m approximately three minutes removed from the story I’m about to recount for you.
Picture the scene: I’m settled in at my table by the window. My inbox is slowly giving up the fight. I’m working down my first cup of coffee and already looking forward to a refill. The morning rush is largely over, and this Starbucks is largely quiet. A group of guys from a church down the road have just finished their weekly meet up, and they’ve left a row of four pushed-together tables just to my left.
An older gentleman arrives. I recognize him as a regular, and guess him to be in his late 70’s. His normal spot is part of the four-table pile-up, and in a move I can only assume comes from being a creature of habit, he begins to separate the tables and carve out his space.
He slides tables. Scoots chairs. Puts things back in place. It doesn’t seem to be an easy task, but he’s diving in like a man on a mission. Meanwhile, across the room I notice a lady in her 60’s. She’s staring. She looks at him. Then glances at me. Back at him. Then another look at me. By this time, the tables are moved, the chairs are settled, and the gentleman has started on his egg and cheese sandwich.
And at that moment, it all makes sense why the lady was staring at me: I should have jumped in.
My mama raised me better than that. My wife would be ashamed of me. A man nearly twice my age was moving heavy tables, and I could have at least assisted, if not taken over. Lady across the shop thinks I’m the rudest guy ever, and in this case…maybe. But I’m not as much unkind as I am unaware.
My problem was that I wasn’t alert. I was looking, but never saw a thing. Watching, yet detached.
And it happens all the time at church. For those of us who care about serving our guests, we are all too often in that same situation:
- A young mom needs to leave the service with her infant, and we watch her walk by, not thinking about opening the door to assist her.
- A new couple approaches for the first time, and we’re so consumed in conversation with friends, we fail to make eye contact and speak.
- Someone is asking surface questions about how they can get involved, and we don’t see past the question to the deeper need.
Serving guests well means that our antennae are always up. Loving the people God sends our way means that we care more about their comfort than our own. Humbly taking care of people means that we’ll watch for opportunities to serve them, pure and simple.
I used to work with a guy who loved to say, “Be alert. The world needs more lerts.” Yes. I know. Horrible joke. But memorable.
Be a “lert” this weekend. Your guests need more of ’em.