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Archive for January, 2012

Driving Words

On two consecutive days, I have found myself driving behind the same blue truck.  It’s not a new truck or a large truck, but a weathered blue truck with a broken taillight.  I couldn’t see who is inside of the truck but I could see what’s written in large, yellow letters across the glass of the truck cab: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.  One yellow heart preceded the YOU and followed the BEAUTIFUL. The first time I saw this truck, I drove behind it from downtown Franklin to my house; the second time, I drove behind from my house to downtown Franklin.  Now, the driver of this truck could have written those words about his or her truck–after all, truck owners are quite fond of their trucks!  But I prefer to think that the truck owner took a little time to jump in the bed of his or her truck, and write that phrase to counter so much of the unkind, unpleasant sayings that appear on other cars and trucks today.  Bumper stickers no longer declare a preference for a political candidate, they denounce the opponent in unflattering and sometimes crude ways.  Even religious views are affixed to vehicles with an edgy “you’d better watch out” phrasing.  It seems to be a indication of a discourtesy that has infiltrated our nation.  Reading negative bumper stickers certainly doesn’t help our mood in traffic, either!

So how refreshing to be behind this truck whose message was a simple, “You are beautiful.”  I may be ascribing far more meaning to this phrase than the truck owner intended but it was a relief to travel down highway 96 behind a compliment instead of a criticism.  So to the owner of that beat-up blue truck, I hope you know you are beautiful, too!

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Customer Relations

At the end of a long, busy day, I have discovered that what perks me up every time is a visit to my neighborhood grocery store or dry cleaner. 

The people who work in my local grocery store seem to like their work, and communicate that they like the customer as well.  So when buying groceries for dinner feels like I’m wearing concrete shoes, it’s wonderful to have a friendly grocery store person make an entrée suggestion–and not in quota-driven, aggressive manner but in a “that’s what I’m here for” way.  And all through the grocery store, whether they are stocking groceries or returning carts, each employee gives a nod or smile, makes eye contact, asks if he or she can be of help.  At the check out line, each checker is efficient but not frantic, always asks about my day, shows genuine appreciation for my presence.  So it is that I leave the grocery store happy and energized, marveling at how a trip to the grocery store was the tonic for my weary spirit.

Likewise, at the dry cleaner, I am greeted with a smile and flattered every time that the clerk begins to write my name at the top of the cleaning slip as I come through the door.  [This, of course, is due to the fact that I am a frequent customer!]  They inquire about my health and my day, and they take pride in their work, even pointing out when all of a stain couldn’t be removed.  While my visits to the dry cleaner aren’t daily, on those days when I drop off clothing early in the morning and pick them up on my way home, my day is  bracketed by a pleasant experience.

Here are two businesses whose overall spirit and attitude makes me want to return to them again and again, as well as to recommend them to others. 

So I have wondered: does the church do the same?  And not just my particular church, but does any and every church communicate that we Christians like the gospel and enjoy sharing it with others? Do we in the church show a sense of caring and concern, without being overly intrusive?  Do we greet one another warmly and inquire about one another’s health? 

Oh, I know that the church is not a business, nor do I want the church to be run like a business.  However, I think the church can learn a little something from the business world about customer relations.  The church could strive to make each member feel important (especially the less honorable ones, as the Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12), responding to member needs, creating such a positive experience that people want to return Sunday after Sunday and recommend the church to their friends.  As the writer of I John expresses it, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”  And that’s just good customer relations!

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