Thursday, June 9, 2011


I was out at a local restaurant for dinner last night. Just like there are people who live on the island seasonally, there are also people who work here seasonally. My server last night was one of these and she admitted to me right from the beginning that she was new. This gave me a whole lot more sympathy for her than I may have had as she was not the greatest at her job. As I interacted with her and watched her serve other tables as well I was brought back to about 8 years ago when I was working as a server at Bob Evans. And then I got to thinking how being a restaurant server was good preparation for being a pastor. Both require a lot of remaining calm and polite and listening to complaints and apologizing for things that are often not your fault. Both require regular interaction with people. Both require confidence. Both are primarily based on serving. I know it's not really possible but I think it'd be good if everyone could experience working in the food service industry at some point in their life. It certainly has made me much more understanding and appreciative of those who serve me in restaurants. And who knew that all these years later I would realize that it taught me how to be a better pastor?
(PS - tip your waiters and waitresses well!)


Anonymous said...

Dear Jocelyn ... this morning you are on my mind and I realized I hadn't checked your blog in awhile. I hope you receive this ... I'm not educated about "choosing an identity" so I chose "Anonymous." We are off to Lay School of Theology, a yearly event at Theil College and one we love. A whole weekend learning about "The Point in Being Lutheran." Two instructors, PR. Hawk (retired) and a class on Romans and the modern church taught by Rev. Dr. Walter Taylor of Trinity Seminary. We take separate classes so we can share info later. I'm going to be praying for you ... when someone is on my mind first thing in the morning, there must be a reason.
Sending Love and Hugs ... Gerry Miller

Ron Johnson said...

Hi, JJ. I'm a philosophy professor who teaches at night and works by day in a customer service call center to support my family. When I began my day job in customer service, I soon realized that this job gave me a unique opportunity to practice the imitation of Christ. Few other jobs give us the opportunity to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, and to bless those who curse us. And as you say, service jobs like mine or like your former job at Bob Evans do help us get into the service mentality that is so needed in your pastoral role or in my role as a professor. I have also found, however, that a job in customer service can make a person jaded if we're not careful. The key is to learn to let Christ serve through us, rather than shouldering the burden ourselves. And if we do that, then -- as you say -- it's a great lesson in service that we can carry with us into whatever work we do in years to come.