Have you ever sat down in a restaurant and the server walk up to your table and immediately you can tell they are not having a good day? You’re not greeted with a smile or really even welcomed whatsoever, just a basic question to get things started…”What do you want to drink?”. You instantly feel awkward, especially if you have friends with you and you planned to have a fun night. Everyone at the table gets quiet and you look at each other like, uh oh…this could be an interesting night. That one server puts a damper on the expectations of the entire evening.
When this happens to me, I try to think the best and wonder what the person may be going through. Did they get some bad news recently or something didn’t work out the way they wanted it to? It becomes a challenge for me to get them to be friendly before I leave. There have been times when the server finally lightened up and became much more pleasant to deal with. It’s a relief when that happens and you end up feeling better about your decision to come to that place and eat.
It’s my opinion however, that no matter what a person is dealing with, when you’re in a position to serve, you should do it with kindness. You have to learn to leave you problems at the door. When you serve, you set the mood for the ones you are serving. The more they enjoy their experience, the more generous they will be and the more often they will return. If you serve like you’re bitter, it becomes very unpleasant for everyone.
I have the privilege of being a lead pastor and serving a lot of people and also teaching many of them how to lead through serving as well. One thing I’ve learned after 22 years of being a pastor, is the importance of serving with kindness. I can’t tell you the times I’ve walked out of my office and into the sanctuary, carrying burdens and problems. In fact, there have been times I didn’t even want to walk out. I didn’t feel like preaching, much less having to shake hands with people in the congregation. However, I’m not just the leader, I’m the server. I can’t just bring them what they ordered, I have to be careful how I present it, because they don’t have to accept it.
I try my best to teach the leaders in our church to serve better, not bitter. I encourage them to not bring their problems to the department where they are serving. No one wants to be served by someone bitter and truthfully, no one really wants to work with someone bitter either. That spirit will bring down the morale of the entire team. I want the people in our congregation to be generous and faithful, so we can spread the gospel and be a blessing to our city. From the greeter at the door to the praise singer on the stage…serve better, not bitter. From the teacher in the classroom to the sound engineer…serve better, not bitter. From the van driver to the camera operator…serve better, not bitter.
Let me encourage every pastor and church leader to not let what you’ve gone through affect how you serve people. You may be hurt and angry, but leave it at the door. I know it gets very difficult to lead through serving. Sometimes you’re serving people that love you and others that are talking about you, all at the same table. Whatever you do, don’t let ignorant people make you a bitter server. Wherever you serve, I’m praying for you today. I’m asking God to help you get your joy back and for you to start serving better, not bitter.