The Arrogance of Experience
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’ll frequently publish posts highlighting a less than stellar guest service experience. And I suppose part of the “eye” that forms the genesis of these posts comes naturally: first impressions is what I do. It’s what I’m immersed in for the majority of my week, my ministry life, and it’s the stuff that I love to read about, learn from, and study. And when I’m in a retail establishment, restaurant, or encountering a service provider, I’m obviously going to pick up on those things with a sense of critique.
But here’s what I’ve noticed about myself lately: there is arrogance that often accompanies my experience. I’ll find myself on the rough end of a bad customer experience, and instead of responding with grace, I’ll react with a subtle cold shoulder, deftly communicating that the person serving me just isn’t measuring up.
Further, there’s an arrogance that accompanies the fact that I have experience. In other words, “I’m a professional. I know how this should be done. And you stink at it.”
Now let me be clear: I’ve never thrown a napkin dispenser across a restaurant, never put my fist through the drywall on the way out, never hiked up my britches and given anyone my best “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM” shriek. But all of those things are latently lurking below the surface. I possess an arrogance that overshadows grace, a pride that overwhelms kindness, and an attitude that smothers over the gentleness of the gospel.
How much better would it be if – instead of calculating all the things that someone is doing wrong – I figured out what they’re doing right? How much more effective if I sought to serve them, rather than complained about how they’re not serving me? What kind of relational bridge could be built if I took the poor service and responded with what they did not deserve: a kind smile, an encouraging word, a sincere show of gratitude?
What if I treated people the way Jesus has treated me?
Now I’ll tell you: that doesn’t mean that I’ll end up with the service I want. It doesn’t mean that every bad experience gets reformed. And it certainly doesn’t make for good blog stories. But at the end of the day, it’s not about my bad experience, my service, or my zinger of a tale. It’s about Jesus. And it’s about allowing him to live through me, even in the mundane details of a cold cheeseburger or a insanely long hold time.
How does your experience reveal your arrogance?