My oldest daughter began working this summer at a fast-food company that is known for being a Christian company. The experience has been a really great introduction to the working world and she has learned a lot of very valuable lessons. Her boss is a dedicated Christian man who sees his ownership of this restaurant as his mission to help teenagers learn to work in a safe and wholesome environment. The people who work at this place have strict rules to follow: no tattoos, no weird piercings, no outrageous hairstyles or colors. They wear a very particular uniform and their earning free food each shift depends on arriving on time, and on being tidy with shirts tucked in and fingernails clean. There is also a huge emphasis placed on their manner toward the customers. They are taught to greet each customer a certain way, to smile and be respectful always, and that the customer is always right and they are to humbly apologize for even an imagined slight. Molly has learned how to run a cash register, make change, interact with customers and many other assorted tasks. My favorite thing by far, however, is a certain trademark phrase that all employees of this restaurant use. If an employee does something for you (such as open the door or hand you your food) and you say “thank you”, they do not respond with “you’re welcome”. Their unusual reply is this—“It’s my pleasure!”
In a world where service is almost a lost art and cranky fast-food employees thrust food at you without a single word, this place stands out. From the employee who stands in the rain to walk you to the door with an umbrella, to the hard-working table cleaners and the friendly cashiers, a noticeable difference is felt. Upbeat Christian music plays on the speaker system, fresh food is prepared as you order it, and it is served with a smile. Another employee comes around offering to refill your drinks, and seeing if you need anything else. Service is offered with a willing spirit and a friendly smile. The best part of my daughter working at this place is the attitude of willing service that she brings home with her. “It’s my pleasure” has become her standard reply when I ask her to do something. Now, this is not the world’s standard for a typical 15-year-old! She has learned the valuable art of serving with a truly willing heart. It lifts my spirits and warms my heart every time I hear these precious words come out of her smiling face. Every so often, they come out with a bit of effort, but even then, I know she has learned a hard lesson…giving service when you don’t feel like it.
How would our world be different if we taught our children this art of serving? Instead of being the “Me” generation, we’d be raising a generation of kids who can truly be salt and light in this world—a true portrait of Jesus. Just like this particular restaurant stands out in a crowd of other fast-food restaurants (where the food is barely passable and the attitudes of the servers barely civil), children who know how to serve others would be an amazing beacon of God’s love. How do we teach our children this long-lost art? First of all, look in the mirror. Do our children see us serving others begrudgingly, because we know we should, or do they see us serving joyfully, because it brings glory to God? This is so hard sometimes…we are so caught up in the busyness of our own lives, that the idea of doing something for someone else is almost more than we can cope with. Yet some of the best servants I know are the ones who have the busiest lives. I know young moms who care for another young mom’s children to give them a break, even though they are barely making it themselves. I see people with very little money who are the most generous when they see someone else with a need. I know people who take meals to someone at the drop of a hat, when it may be very inconvenient for their own schedule. To me, these people know a secret… they are choosing what is more valuable over what may seem more urgent.
I am trying to work on this in myself. I want to serve without complaining, to be more aware of the needs around me and to do what I can do to help fill them. I want my children to see a willing spirit in me, so they, too, will learn to serve with willing hearts. What an amazing change it would be if more people responded with “It’s my pleasure” instead of “Yeah, whatever.” Thanks to my daughter’s employer, there is now one more family inspired to give of ourselves more willingly. Surely, if they can take pleasure in supplying fast food, we can take pleasure in supplying people with Jesus’ love.
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