I watched the job "coach" who stood beside the developmentally challenged bagger he was working with the other day at the grocery store as he encouraged him to look ahead at the next order, think about what questions he needed to ask the customer and to picture what items he might sack together before they even reached his hands.
I thought about him again days later as I was training a new cashier at the same locale, standing beside her at the register to help her deal with any problems that might arise and to show her exactly what her employer expected her to do. The trainee quickly mastered all aspects of the position, but I found she was reluctant to ask customers a particular question that people sometimes react to negatively. When my frequent reminders failed to bring about the desired result, I took to asking the question myself, hoping that my example would coax her into the desired action when my words failed to do so.
A week later I was behind the register myself and in my trainee's shoes. Store management had asked us to give each customer the opportunity to donate to a health-related research foundation. I find it difficult to ask people for money, no matter how good the cause, and have really struggled in the past with making myself do so, sometimes just flatly ignoring the order completely. Again this time I was having difficulty when I suddenly pictured Jesus standing beside me in the spirit and encouraging me to obey my supervisor, not just for the sake of my job, but for the sake of the One I say I serve. My obedience to the former is an expression of my love for the latter. Surely that change in perspective should have been enough to likewise change my actions, but still I struggled. But the next time I failed to ask a customer about a donation, I pictured Jesus saying the words for me, much as I had done with my trainee the week before.
Willingly Jesus covers my mistakes and shows me in a positive and tender way how to do what's right and live the life of service and obedience that I was called to. I saw myself in the disciples' shoes when they were slow to learn their lessons on servant hood. Jesus simply took a basin and a towel and showed by His foot-washing example how they were to live.
That did it for me. My actions changed dramatically and I was rewarded by the look of surprise on my boss' face when I handed her a stack of completed donation forms at the end of the day. How grateful I am to the life coach who didn't limit His instructions to just words in His Book, but literally stepped into our world to physically show us the way.
"...obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men..."
(Ephesians 6:5-7 NIV)
(Ephesians 6:5-7 NIV)