Just last night I was pondering the people I have come across this week in my work. We call them ‘customers’, but really they are people – with real lives and hopes and fears and problems.
When you see customers its easy to do a job, perform a service and move on to the next customer. When you see a person you have to take notice and wonder about that person and their life. Its easier to deal with customers, but more rewarding to engage with people.
I don’t think its been an unusual week by any stretch, but it began with the pensioner who told me about her breast cancer and how that had changed her life. The next day I was working for the woman who had been divorced 3 times and who went to great lengths to tell me she didn’t need a man around. Ironically 4 of us blokes were working on different projects around her house that day…
The next day was a local bloke my age who had just been diagnosed with bowel cancer and had to excuse himself regularly from our conversation as all was not well. As we talked I discovered this news had shattered his life and changed everything for him. I stopped in on the grandmum who’s daughter had died tragically and who, in the absence of a father was now ‘mum’ to the 5 year old child left behind .
And then yesterday I got a call from Betty, an 80 year old woman who lived the last 25 years in Two Rocks and worked most of her life as a barmaid. She’s a tough old stick and knows more swear words than most blokes. As we got talking, she told me (thinks) she has 11 kids, but one was murdered. She went to tell that story and the tragedy of a wasted life. It was still pretty raw.
Its not always easy to treat customers as people, because it is more time consuming and when you’re a task oriented person with a lot of stuff to get done in a day it can slow you down, but if we called to be salt and light in the workplace then maybe this is just one way we can love those people we come across.
I offer these thoughts because I often hear people saying they make no impact for the gospel in their workplace. Usually by that they mean that they haven’t presented the 4 spiritual laws to anyone, led them to Christ and got them to join a church, but that’s a pretty narrow take on how we can be the people of God in the world we live in.
Perhaps slowing down, taking a genuine interest, asking questions and then listening is as good a way of demonstrating the presence of Christ as any…