MERIDIAN — "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." — James 3:17 (NKJV)
Years ago, I had a life-changing experience with eating out. I stood in a long line at a fast food restaurant waiting to give my order. As each customer stepped forward to order, all could hear in a cheerful voice, “May I help you, please?” With total attention, this young lady tried her best to take care of the person before her.
When the man in front of me stepped to the line, she asked, “May I help you, please?” He retorted, “I hope so!” Give me a burger, fries and drink, and hurry up. I have waited long enough on you!” To be honest, I bristled at the man’s attitude. He may have been in line for a few minutes, but she was obviously doing all she could.
When it came my turn to order, I heard the same cheerful address, “May I help you, please?” I said, “Yes you can. Give me a burger, fries, and drink, and one more thing — take your time.” She stopped dead in her tracks and thanked me for being patient.
A common problem is how we overlook those who serve us. They are real people! They deserve encouragement and praise just like everyone else. They are more than a vending machine. After forty-three years of serving others, I know personally what a pat on the back or a word of encouragement means.
We live in a world that is critical and negative. We tend to be impatient and inconsiderate of others, especially when they are perceived as helping us. Quick, harsh words said without consideration of the feelings and stress of others is most unchristian.
What if that one serving waits on medical test results, or feels lonely, or desperately hopes for a solution to an unsolvable problem? It may be possible that the reason God has us in this situation is for us to serve them by offering a gentle word of encouragement to help them through their day.
I challenge you today to become the next encourager! On my street is a preacher who places an ice chest and beverages out for the garbage men on Tuesday! I know a policeman who stops to speak to people walking down the street. I know an orderly in the hospital that acts like a greeter in Wal-Mart. I know a neighbor that is constantly taking food to others in the neighborhood. I know a lady that goes to a retirement facility and gives “a little happy” to all she meets. I know a lady who kisses a handicapped boy on the head every Sunday.
Now I make sure that, along with a good tip, I give a kind word and a positive encouragement to anyone that is helping me through my day. Just this week, I thanked “Teresa” for serving me at a local restaurant as she was leaving my table. She stopped, turned around, and with a great smile, said, “Thank you; it was a real joy to serve you.” That morning we both smiled.
Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www. psdbc.org.