By Adam Faughn
Have you ever tried to calculate how many different people you interact with during a
typical day? I would venture to say that most of us would underestimate that number
unless we really started thinking carefully. We would probably only remember fairly
significant conversations or maybe people we rode in a vehicle with, plus possibly a
couple of others.
But, on a day when you are just going through your regular routine, you likely interact with a fairly significant number of people. Did you email someone today? There is one you might not have counted. Did you go to the store and say hello to the cashier? There is another. Did you make a phone call to pay a bill or set up an appointment? There is yet another. They really start adding up when you walk through a normal day for many of us.
The point of this little exercise is not to just cause us to start counting our interactions (although that could be interesting also). It is to challenge us to make our interactions count! Is it not possible that we regularly speak of the need to be good examples before others, but then we do not live that out in these "small" or "quick" interactions?
• When the service at the restaurant is a little (or a lot) slower than you have come to expect, do you make a scene and act with anger, or do you try to encourage the one who is doing the best he or she can?
• When you have waited in line at the store for a long time and finally get to the register, do you still greet the cashier with a smile and kind word, or do you become just another complaining customer?
• When you type something on social media, is it something that glorifies God or just something that builds up your own ego?
• When you send an email or make a phone call, do you check to be sure your tone is one that is gracious and kind or do you just "fire off" a message because the person cannot see you face-to-face?
These may seem like very small things, but they are not. How do I know that? Deep
down, we all know this is true because we have been on the other side, have we not?
You have been the one who was complained to through no fault of your own. You have
been the one who received the angry email. You have been the one who was talked down
to even when you were doing the best you could.
So far, this may not seem like a "church bulletin" article. So far, this may read like something from the "Self Help" section of a local bookstore. I assure you, though, there is a spiritual component to this.
What is it? When you were treated in a way that was mean, rude, short, or such like, was your first thought, "That person must be a follower of Jesus"? I dare say that it was not. In fact, I dare say that was far down your list of reactions!
Why, then, would we think we can act in ways that are rude and unbecoming and it be okay when we are supposed to be reflecting the light of God in all the world? That smile to a stressed-out wait staff member might be the only pleasant thing that happens on the entire shift. Your kind word to a cashier might be the only nice thing said to him or her for hours. The email--even one that is written to point out something that needs to be worked on or corrected--that is filled with reminders of the motivation being love and not spite is more likely to touch someone's heart.
Then, when there is a moment when someone thanks you or returns a word of kindness,
will you take the extra step of giving the credit and glory to the God you serve? Will you
point that person to your faith, even with just a quick word ("Oh, I'm just trying to be who
Jesus wants me to be.")?