Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor
“Rewarding everyday moments.”
The above is the mantra of Starbucks Coffee. Just about everyone is aware that buying coffee at Starbucks is about more than the coffee, it’s also very much about the experience. Buying coffee at Starbucks is a pricey proposition, but many who frequent Starbucks would agree the value is in the experience. It’s the experience that makes it worth it.
Which is what makes the following story I want to tell you so interesting.
I had the extreme privilege this week of learning from a man named Phil Cooke. Phil is a person who helps churches and other organizations make certain they are sending consistent messages to their communities and their constituencies regarding what they stand for and are known for. Perhaps what he offers has never been needed by the church more than now. There has never been a time (certainly in my lifetime) the church has had a bigger image problem than right now. Whenever people think about the church (which for many is very seldom) they tend to think of the many things the church is known for being against. This IS our image. Tragically, we are not known for being for many things… just against them. Again, this is tragic!
So let’s get back to Starbucks. Remember, Starbucks’ desire is to be known for “rewarding everyday moments” with great coffee drinking experiences. This is a great idea! But this is harder to deliver than you might imagine.
Phil told us a story of something that he had recently witnessed. He was in a Starbucks and was standing in line, just behind someone he described as “a very sweet elderly lady.” When it was her turn to order she stepped up to counter and told the barista what she would like. His immediate response to her was “Ma’am, we don’t sell that here.” Phil was a bit taken back by the snarky way in which he said it. The lady said, “Are you sure? I’ve ordered this drink here before.” To this, he commented, “Lady, I work here, don’t you think I know what we serve?” again, with no little amount of disrespect in his voice.
It was at this point that Phil said it got most interesting. He looked up and noticed on their menu board the very drink she had just tried to order. It was clearly listed. He said he couldn’t help but intercede on her behalf by pointing this out to the barista, who turned around, looked at the board, and SAID NOTHING IN RESPONSE. He simply made the drink without giving eye-contact with either of them, or apologizing to the lady.
Now listen carefully, I am not passing along this story to bag on Starbucks, or to claim this is a common experience one has there. It certainly is not. What I am challenging you to think about is this… “What difference does the mantra of Starbucks make in that very moment? Where is the reward in that everyday moment? All the wonderful things Starbucks offers are diminished in a single moment, through a single barista, interacting with a faithful customer in a most unrewarding manner!
This is the power of someone who is perceived as an owner. I am confident if Howard Shultz had witnessed what Phil witnessed he would have interceded immediately and handled it very differently. But Howard wasn’t there, rather he, and his entire company and their entire reputation was being represented by one singularly rude uninformed barista!
Which brings me to the point of this post. How people perceive Jesus is determined by how well we represent him! And how people perceive the church is based on how people who claim to belong to it respond to them… in the parking lot, and at the door, and in the very row they choose to sit.
Do you own your faith? If so, YOU possess the power to advance the name of Christ, or to diminish it! You are powerful! Regardless of all the things others do to try to make the body of Christ a loving, accepting, warm and embracing place, one bad encounter with an owner (YOU) will be what someone remembers.
So Ephesians 4:32 reminds us,
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Our behavior matters! The image of Jesus is riding on it! Therefore, we need to be very kind to one another and always remember what’s at stake!
All the mantras, mottos and mission statements in the world cannot undo the damage any one of us can cause in a single careless moment. Let’s present Christ in a manner worthy of his name!!!
That will be one rewarding everyday moment!