People in ministry often discover that some things are out of their control. Nowhere is this more obvious than the question of facilities. If you don’t have the key to the supply closet, you can’t refill the paper towel dispenser. If you meet in a rented facility, you can’t always predict when the lobby will be shut down in order to strip and wax the floors. If your building is located on a busy highway, you can’t do anything about the trash that motorists toss out their windows.
Or maybe you can.
Those three examples are excuses more than anything else. Of course we can ask for (and usually get) a spare key. We can work with building owners to know maintenance schedules. And trashy facilities or properties? We may not be able to keep people from tossing their trash, but we certainly don’t have to leave it there.
In her book It’s My Pleasure, Dee Ann Turner, Chick-fil-A’s Vice President for Corporate Talent, relates the following story:
Excellence in product and service is the backbone of success for any business. However, businesses do not become excellent in the big areas without focusing on the small details, too. For years, former Chick-fil-A President and COO Jimmy Collins…was known for stopping his car on the busy exit ramp leading to the Chick-fil-A Corporate office to pick up trash along the roadway. Even though that roadway is the responsibility of the local municipality, they did not keep the exit ramp clear of trash, so Jimmy did it for them. To this day, our own staff cleans that exit ramp because we want guests to have a remarkable experience from the moment they exit the highway and head toward Chick-fil-A. Excellence in small things leads to excellence in big things.
So, what are your exit ramps?
- The literal exit ramps and roadways leading to your facility.
- The parking lot of the high school where you meet (an 11th grader’s Burger King cup and pickles from his cheeseburger never seems to find the trash can).
- The empty soap dispensers in your bathroom that the facilities team overlooked.
- The weeds poking up from the cracks in the sidewalk that the volunteer yard guy didn’t have the time to pull or spray.
- The entry door glass streaked with weeks’ worth tiny handprints.
- The 1960’s era faded- and cracked-vinyl chair that was dropped off by a church member, because “you can probably use it in the lobby.”
- The overflowing trash can that didn’t get emptied after the middle schoolers borrowed your space.
- The pungent smell coming from the mystery box of leftovers in the church kitchen.
As a leader, maybe none of these things are your fault. But they are your responsibility.
As leaders, we lead the way by stooping to pick up the trash. Even if no one else sees it, you must. Because your guests certainly will.
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