Last week I overheard a brief exchange between a fast-food employee and a customer. I missed the context, so there could be some rampant misinterpretation here (but in fairness, if you look up “blogger” in the dictionary, “rampant interpretation” is included in the definition).
The employee said – rather brusquely, with nary a smile in sight – “Well it looks like we both made a mistake, doesn’t it?”
Read that again. Slowly. Put yourself in the position of the customer. Feel how how it stings?
Again, I don’t know the context. And I’ve worked enough in retail that I know that the customer isn’t always right. Customers aren’t always sunshine and roses, they don’t always know what is best, and sometimes they can be downright mean.
And the same thing goes for guests in our churches.
Guests don’t always know what is best for them. They too can be downright mean. But in the words of the good folks at Disney Institute: “Guests may not always be right, but they are always our guests.”
Here’s the difference between dealing with retail guests vs. church guests: the church is called to humility. If we are serving from a posture of humility, we don’t have the option of “telling them like it is” or “setting things straight” or “teaching them a lesson.” Regardless of the attitude of the guest, the attitude of the church must be one of honor, of grace, and of extending dignity to the people God sends our way.
Think through your guest interactions from the past weekend. Were any of them less than gracious? Did any of them need a do-over? Did you find your patience slipping away? Your guests might not have been right, but they were still your guests. Treat ’em as such.