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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Why Customer Service is a Virtue

Credit: Laura Weis, Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/2U6gt9)

Credit: Laura Weis, Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/2U6gt9)

At my retail job, my name tag labels me as a “Customer Service Associate.” My training included watching video scenarios of good and bad customer service, which analyzed even body language and tone of voice to use with customers. Out on the sales floor, it became quickly obvious why good customer service is important.

When customers see my name tag and blue employee shirt, I am not just an individual person anymore. I am the literal face of the company. By my words and actions, customers immediately begin to judge whether they like the store as a whole and if they want to shop there again.

The company hopes sincere, beyond expectations service will keep customers coming back, therefore all of the employees have to embody that customer service day to day, from opening to closing. My managers remind us to welcome every customer, proactively offer them help, ask if they have questions, and do everything possible to serve the needs of customers–because what we do is what the company does. With that name tag and blue shirt, I represent all of the retail chain. The store is manifest in me.

One day at work, I realized being a “Customer Service Associate” is a lot like being a Christian. When I associate myself with Christ, I no longer stand for only myself; I represent Christ. Customer impressions of me will affect their impressions of the store, and how people view me will affect how they view Christ.

It’s tempting to argue, “But I’m only human! Don’t they get that? It’s unreasonable for people to make wrong assumptions of Jesus because of my screw-ups and my faults. My weaknesses have no reflection on who Jesus is.”

Oh but they do.

Paul wrote to the Colossian church, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Personally, Paul considered himself an ambassador of the gospel (Eph. 6:20). And what does a royal ambassador do? He speaks for the king. This is what Christians do. And when someone doesn’t know Jesus personally, can we really expect them to tell the difference between our words, our actions, and our King’s?

The night before he died, Jesus told his first disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

In other words, Jesus wants his disciples to be known for extraordinary service. We should love others as he loved us so that people will see Jesus through us and keep coming back until they know him for themselves.

Are you representing Jesus well? Or is your service poor?

 

 

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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Other thoughts

 

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God Doesn’t Leave Voicemail

Imagine you have a long-distance best friend. Maybe you already do, so it isn’t hard to imagine. Anyway, it’s been a while since your last visit, and your friend decides to give you a call. You don’t answer. They text instead. You don’t respond. After a week goes by, they stalk your Facebook wall to make sure you’re alive. Yep, you posted at work that morning about your delicious breakfast burrito. There are pictures from the last night when you went bowling with some friends. Your friend decides your phone must be broken and posts to your wall an inside joke about a porcupine, knowing you’re the only person who would get it.

No reply.

Months go by. Your friend eventually gives up trying to reach you.

One day you see a porcupine on TV. You remember your friend and decide to give them a call. They don’t answer. You try again but it goes directly to voicemail. As time goes on without reciprocation, you first feel annoyed. Then irritated. You wonder if they are intentionally ignoring you. Maybe they don’t care about you anymore. Maybe they never did.

On the other end of the line, your hurt friend watches their phone ring and wonders if they want to answer after you wouldn’t answer their own calls. After being neglected for long months, why should they pick up where you left off? Why should they still call you a friend?

Credit: Robert S. Digby, Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/7rKqYa)

Credit: Robert S. Digby, Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/7rKqYa)

In Isaiah 65, the Lord declares curses on his people of Israel who had rebelled against him and served other gods. They abandoned him. They ignored him. So God replies, “I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will fall in the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me” (v. 12). But for the one who obeys the one true God, he promises to bless them and “the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes” (v. 16). He then describes a day of “new heavens and a new earth” when rejoicing will replace all suffering. In that day, he says, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” (v. 17, 24).

When times are good, we often let God’s calls go to voicemail. We assume we’re doing fine on our own and that he’ll still be there when we need him. Then a crisis appears, and we wonder why God isn’t answering our cries for help. We ask why God is silent.

Now I don’t want to imply God is a resentful friend harboring old hurts, but why should we expect to hear from him after ignoring his attempts at contact? Is that a healthy relationship? If we’re not listening to his voice in good times, how are we going to receive a word from him when times are hard? God might not be the one who grew distant.

Do you need to apologize and ask forgiveness for ignoring God?

“Please leave a message after the tone.”

Beep.

“Hi, friend. Sorry I’ve been a jerk. I should have returned your calls. Will you forgive me?”

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2014 in Other thoughts

 

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When God Opens a Door

Bad Alley

Credit: Bad Alley, Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/7zhC67)

“If I hadn’t been on board, I would have just missed out on a blessing.”

One semester after the prayer group began, my friend Anneliese volunteered to keep the nightly meetings going while the founder studied abroad in China. While she felt called to the task, Anneliese also thought she would be the only person to show up at all.

Her roommate committed to come with her, and soon Anneliese began inviting other friends from the campus. By the time the group’s founder returned, the group had attracted a core of students.

“They wanted to have that close-knit friend group where they knew each other intimately and wanted to be able to not only pray together but live together and live out what God was calling us to do,” Anneliese said.

She realized volunteering had been a small act of obedience to God’s will that had blossomed, but she knew the prayer group would have happened somehow, with or without her. “It might not have looked the same way,” she said, “but God definitely wanted some people to be gathering in prayer, because there were just so many aspects of students wanting to reach out more, to come into a deep relationship with Christ…through prayer specifically.”

When the Jews in Persia were threatened with imminent death, Queen Esther was in a unique position to appeal to the king on their behalf. It meant risking her life, but her adoptive father warned, ““Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).

Esther had a choice. She could use her position to save God’s people, or she could ignore God’s call and stay where it seemed safest. But without her help, the roles would reverse. God would still rescue his people, and she would be the one who would suffer.

Anneliese told me, “I’m so glad that I did not miss out on the blessing and to realize that tiny acts that I might not realize now…that those are opportunities to continue to get on board with what God’s doing.”

Lately, God’s put several choices in my lap. But it’s been clear which ones were doors God, like a modern gentleman, held open for me. If God’s will is “good, pleasing, and perfect,” then it’s just stubborn ridiculousness to turn away from his open doors (Romans 12:2). As Paul argues, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

I don’t believe God will curse me if I don’t take the open doors offered to me. Then again, it might be enough of a curse to miss out on God’s plans.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in Other thoughts

 

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