When I was 16 years go I got my first job busing tables at a Goldie’s Restaurant in my hometown. This job involved removing half-eaten food from tables, waiters that wouldn’t share their tips, cleaning the bathrooms, and just about every other conceivable disgusting thing in the restaurant business. But I’ve always remembered one thing from my 4 nights of employment. (Are you surprised? Of course I quit after 4 days!)
I guess I wasn’t exactly hiding my dissatisfaction with my chores, and my boss pulled me into his office to tell me to smile more. I laughed at his request and then he got in my face and told me that to work for his restaurant I had to look approachable, and if I was walking around looking upset; that nobody would ever ask for my help…and then there was the potential that an unhappy customer might leave the restaurant. That right there is some truth!
So fast forward almost 20 years and that advice still stands! Every Sunday morning as I walk in and through the areas of my church, I’m interacting with a customer of sorts. Not the kind of customer that is buying something, but the kind that has a need that needs to be filled. I don’t know what those needs are, but I need to work to be as approachable as possible. Sometimes it’s being approachable to tell someone where they can find a particular place on our campus. Other times it’s being able to reward the bravery of a child that wants you to pray with them.
Here are the ways I work to always make people feel welcome.
- Smile. This is the simplest one. Simply smile. A simple smile always disarms even the most frustrated person. And here’s a little secret about the power of a smile…it can cover whatever turmoil you may be going through in the moment. Have you ever heard this saying, “Fake it, ’til you make it!”? Just because you don’t feel like smiling, isn’t a good enough reason to frown!
- Look Around. I work every weekend to not always look at myself, and what I’m going through during a busy weekend. Instead, I take the time to look at what is around me. Many times I’ve discovered I can help people by just seeing what they see. Walking around and looking for those needs, is key to finding the needs I can meet.
- Avoid Groups. By this I mean, that I avoid standing around in groups of cliques. If you go to church you know what I mean. I don’t hang out with the other pastors in the lobby, loiter in front of the nursery, or restrict myself to the guest connections counter. I’m not rude, but I just never stay in one place very long.
- Smile. Oh, did I already mention this one?
If you’re working at a church, and you’re not deliberately working to make yourself available to those that need you…then you’re missing one of your greatest callings!