Apr 302017

kindnessGritty eyes from lack of sleep.  Stressed with a headful of somber thoughts. “Coffee…. biscuits and gravy, that’s all,” he quickly said to the young waitress.   A minute later, coffee.  Several more minutes,  fresh-from-the-oven biscuits.  She served quietly and quickly, always with a smile. As he finished his second cup, he felt an overwhelming urge to speak to her, sharing his appreciation for her kindness.

“I need to tell you something,” he said. “You never know who you’ll be serving, do you? You probably thought I was just a guy getting his own breakfast before his wife gets up. What you got… was a tired leader, hurting with the knowledge that a favorite former work colleagues was dying last night.  I needed a calm, quiet place to get my head straight before starting the rest of my day. What I got, was polite and cheerful smiling service, just often enough to ensure my coffee needs were met,  no coffee drips on the table from refills, super-fast service with one of my comfort foods. Thank you so much for serving me in that way. It meant  a lot to me. Thank you.”

She started to tear up and told him that yesterday had been a very hard day on the job and that she really needed to hear that right then. She leaned over and gave him a tight hug, right there at his table.  He was shocked into silence. He left a very large tip.

Halfway home, something suddenly hit him. “God, you totally set me up! I went in there for my own selfish reasons.  And you set me up to  give someone an encouraging word at just the right time. And I didn’t even ask for it. Thanks for using me, even when I wasn’t in a listening mood!”

Kindness is usually free. It can be simply the words we use. Or it could be the  facial expression or touch we use when interacting with others.  In the workplace,  it is common to think that kindness is not necessary. Coworkers shouldn’t need  appreciation for just doing their job, should they?  I shouldn’t need to express kindness or concern  for colleagues, should I? It’s not professional to mix work and personal, is it?

Gallup, the renowned polling organization, asks for a response to the following statement when polling employees for job satisfaction:  In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work. Apparently they view it as a crucial issue!

Who should receive kindness from me? A stressed employee, an overworked boss, a thoughtful wife, a caring parent, a struggling child, a committed pastor. Oh, yeah, and a grouchy patient, an impatient customer, a rude friend….

And yes, a waitress. I should know. Those were my biscuits… just this morning.

Nov 242010

Moms have a whole day for it. Even Dads have one! Tomorrow is a whole day devoted to it, even though it is already commercially overshadowed by Christmas. Nevertheless, we ignore it so often every day.

Coffee. I don’t drink it a lot, but a good cup on a cold day in a cozy restaurant really hits the spot. I have noticed that wait staff vary quite a bit in their technique for filling and refilling a cup. I’ve chosen this as a litmus test for determining the level of care a person takes in serving me. Often, there is a drop running down the side of the cup and several more across the table as the carafe is slowly brought to an upright position after leaving the cup. Some professionals however, have mastered the art of uprighting the carafe while it is still hovering over the cup, leaving not one drop anywhere outside the cup! For that reason, and other specific acts of quality service, I choose to regularly request the presence of the shift manager for a short moment on my way out the door. I compliment the staff member who served me and include specific reasons for my appreciation of their service. I ask that the manager share my comments with them directly. That way, they not only get a compliment, but they know that their boss knows! It’s fun!

 So, what does this coffee focus have to do with Thanksgiving?  OK. Everybody loves on and thanks mothers on Mother’s day. We may even do it on Father’s day. We may even use the words “thank you” more than once on Thanksgiving. Why? Well, because we kindof have to. It’s expected!

 And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NIV

For may of us, you’d think the text reads a little more like this-“and be thankful, in a regulated and periodic fashion”. I don’t think that’s what God had in mind when He had Paul write that short sentence, do you? I think He wants us to live days that are full of thanks! It’s one way we show love for each other.  Have you ever seen someone look less happy when you thank them?  Not usually. Their faces usually light up like a Christmas tree! By the way, what did you say to the person who took the trash out of your office this morning? What about the person who bagged your groceries?

Being thankful is what God asks of us. And when we are obedient to Him, He changes us from the inside out. One word of thanks at a time. One day at a time. Making us look more and more like His Son.

Here’s the challenge for the rest of the week.  Worry less about getting your fair share of tryptophan-laced turkey, dressing,a nd pumpking pie and focus more on those around you. Find at least ten people to thank. Find people you don’t usually thank. Find actions for which you don’t usually show appreciation. Be creative. Be specific. Be direct. Look them right in the eye, tell them what you are thankful for and tell them why. They may be surprised. They may even look shocked! That’s a hint that you may not be thanking them enough! 


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