Thursday, May 05, 2011

If You're Gonna Pray, Treat That Waitress right

Many years ago, a college classmate who had worked in restaurants for many years told how how consistently rude the Church People were, especially on Sundays at lunchtime. First, they'd make it obvious they are Christians by praying, not inconspicuously, before beginning to eat. Then once the meal ensued, they'd be very picky, sending food back for various reasons. They'd be mean to the waiter, leave a lousy tip, and then would do the worst thing they could possibly do in that situation: they'd hand the waiter a tract. Often, the tracts collected on Sunday afternoons would be collected by the waitstaff and burned in the kitchen while everyone watched and laughed.

A few years ago, my friend Tim, who loved people more than anyone I have ever known, demonstrated to me the right way to go out to eat. When the waiter/waitress would arrive at the table, before my friend even got a drink order, he asked their name. He introduced himself, usually by shaking hands. He asked them a little about themselves. Then he mentioned that in a few minutes, he is going to pray over dinner and would like to know if there is anything he can pray for for that waitperson. You'd be amazed at how much that was appreciated.

Once, we had a waitress named Abby. I mentioned to him, after she went away to go get drinks, that my daughter Abby is really named Abigail, which means "Father's Joy".  When the waitress came back, my friend told her what he had just learned about her name. She had no idea what her name meant, and we had a great conversation about her dad and the distance between them.

When he asked for a prayer request, she mentioned a very tough personal situation she was in. His response was equally personal and caring. She was moved to tears. A week later, he had a bible and nice gift package sent to that restaurant to give to Abby, our waitress.

Sadly, my friend died last year, at age 55 way too young, from cancer. Though he died in September, the last time I could have a coherent conversation with him was a year ago, at a May wedding. So I feel like it's been a year since I (temporarily) lost him. But his life was an inspiration to me, and is a reminder to me of how I can best live out his legacy by treating folks in the service industry as Jesus would treat them.

6 comments:

Spiritual Klutz said...

Thanks for this reminder, James. And I thank God for your friend's life.

James said...

Thanks, Josh. It should be noted that after I published this, I took my lunch hour to go run an errand. And I totally blew it with an employee of the store I was trying to buy something from. Completely. Sheesh!

Jesse said...

James, your friend sounds amazing. I'm raising support to be a missionary, which typically involves preaching the gospel, yet I think about doing what your friend did and my heart recoils in fear. What amazing courage he had to be able to so fearlessly try to reach out in such a personal way to people he didn't know.

James said...

Jesse, regarding the "Fear" part. Jesus said He'd give us the words when we needed them (Luke 10, I think). You'll do fine when you need to.

thanks for commenting!

katdish said...

What a great witness your friend was. The little town outside of Houston I live in has been nicknamed "the city of churches" because there are so many of them here. When we go out to lunch after church, we go out of our way to be gracious guests, because sadly, as Christians our bad reputation precedes us.

floyd said...

My old pastor use to say quite a bit, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." When Christians treat others with judgmental attitudes and are overall rude, I wonder what it is about themselves that doesn't allow them to see their resemblance to the Pharisees.
Sorry for your loss, looks like he had an impact far beyond his life. Thanks for sharing.