Posted tagged ‘appreciation’

The Grinch at Starbucks

December 26, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   December 25, 2013

The elderly gentleman arrived at the entry door of Starbucks just ahead of a forty-something man with a serious look on his face and a cell phone attached to his ear. The senior opened the door and invited the other visitor to enter ahead of him. He did and gave his doorman a half-nod.

This was the second visit to the store that morning for the wiser of the two. The second cup of coffee was free for him, so he had taken a morning drive as he sipped on the first cup and then stopped back on his way home. His wife knew his routine, and knew how long it took him to drink twenty-four ounces of the dark roast.

The forty-something hadn’t changed out of his flannel pants, presumably the ones he had worn to bed the night before. He stepped up to the counter and gave no reply to the barista who greeted him.

Harry, the elderly gent, took his time moving from the entrance to his place in line behind the man. He stood there with his coffee cup in hand patiently waiting. The man in the flannel pants in front of him began giving his order…”Latte with skim milk…three shot mocha cappuccino…vanilla latte skim extra shot…americano…medium roast coffee…caramel macciato…three sausage breakfast sandwiches…and a pumpkin spice latte skim.”

     “What size on those drinks, sir?”

      The customer looked perturbed to even have the question be asked. “All talls!”

       “Yes, sir! That will be $31.55.”

       “$31.55! Good Lord! Are you sure about that?”

      The young woman with the patience of Job printed out a copy of the bill. “Yes, sir! Here’s the breakdown on each purchase.”

      The agitated mid-life crisis grabbed it and scanned the figures.

“Cash or credit, sir?”

      “Credit!” bellowed her challenger. The wallet was whipped out of his back pocket to show his disgust. He peered into the pockets of the fake leather, hesitated, and then searched again more frantically.

       “Is there a problem, sir?”

       “I’m missing my credit card,” replied the embarrassed adversary. “I must have pulled it out of my wallet at home and…”

       “Allow me to take care of it, my friend.” The voice of the elderly gentleman was friendly and understanding. “Amanda, would you put this gentleman’s purchases on my bill?”

       “I can’t let you do that. I don’t even know you,” said the man.

“No, but Amanda here does, and she knows that I’m going to get a refill on the dark roast before I even order, and leave me a little room for cream. Isn’t that right, Amanda?”

      “That’s right, Wally.”

      “Sir, I don’t know if…”

      “Let me ask you something, friend. I take it that you aren’t going to drink all of those lattes and drinks, and eat all of those breakfast sandwiches yourself. And I’m guessing that since you are wearing those flannel pants that you are returning home to a place where a few other people close to you are waiting to get caffeinated. This is just my opinion, but I would say it would be better for you to accept my gift here than to disappoint a houseful of people there.”

       The man glanced back and forth for a few moments pondering his dilemma, and then said, “Okay!”

       “Each one of us has found ourselves in awkward situations such as this. It is at those times that I pray that God would put someone behind me to pick me up from my mistake and let me know it will be okay. Perhaps some day soon you’ll be that person

next in line.”

        The man nodded with a look of partial appreciation and he slowly moved down a few feet to the counter where his drinks and food would appear. A few minutes later, with drink carrier and bag in hand, he stepped towards the door to depart. As he opened the door he hesitated and then looked back at his Starbucks savior.

“Wally…thank you!”

         Wally’s wrinkled face broke into a warm smile. He raised his coffee cup to the man and nodded “You’re welcome.”

Taking Lunch to the Teachers

August 22, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          August 22, 2013

                                      “Taking Lunch To The Teachers”

       For the past five years our congregation has taken lunch to the staff of Audubon School, the elementary school a half mile down the street from us, on the staff work day right before students return from summer vacation. We take lunch to them and we eat lunch with them.

We used to take lunch to a couple of other grade schools close by…but they closed.  We trust it wasn’t because we brought them lunch! Actually, it was a sign of the changing population base in our community..more seniors, less kids.

The reasons we take lunch to the staff are multiple. We want them to know that they are appreciated. We’re entrusting our children to them. If there was a scale that measured parental gripes versus “thank you’s” it would probably be tilted. You can make the determination which way you think it would lean. Providing lunch is an easy way…so easy…to just say thank you.

We take lunch to them because we want them to know that we’re in a partnership with them…that it takes a community to raise a child. Churches are a part of that, and schools are a part of that. In fact, although there are other participants in the raising of a child- namely parents- the two major players outside the family are the church and the school. Our church has worked hard at being a support for the school. It has now come to the point where the school has asked how they can help us. Last December the school choir came one morning and sang for our seniors’ group, and then we all had a pizza and salad lunch together. (Not much salad was eaten!)

We also want them to know that we are praying for them. I tell the staff that each year at the luncheon. I told them that I am fully aware of the separation of church and state. If they want to share a prayer concern with us, no student names, we will pray for them. At the luncheon one of the staff people told me of a student with a serious health issue. We prayed for the student…once again, no names were shared…but there’s a good chance that God is familiar with the child!

We take lunch to them because we want to reinforce the commitment to be there for them. “The Lunchroom Ladies” are usually the first ones to notice a student in need. They know that they can have the school secretary call us and request a winter coat for a first grader, or a pair of jeans for a young girl, or a pair of shoes. When the school social worker has a family in need of food we stock them up.

It has taken a few years, but the school staff sees us as their allies, not a threat. The result is a better community, a community that knows that we will help.

Pastor Appreciating Month

October 11, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 October 11, 2012


I’m not sure when it started, and who started it, and how it came to find a home in October, but whatever the unanswered questions are we are eleven days into Pastor Appreciation Month. On Sunday I’ll wear the tie that some of our church kids made for me last year. It’s a great tie with hand prints of each of the kids on it.

Other people over the years have sent me cards, Starbucks gift cards, restaurant gift cards, books, taken Carol and me out to dinner, and expressed their gratitude in a number of ways.

Not to be mushy, but there is the other side of the ministry. It’s the side where the pastor appreciates. It’s the side where the heart of the pastor is meshed with the congregation in a multitude of life-sharing ways, the side where the passions of the pastor are expressed and owned by the people of the Body.

The pastor appreciates a congregation where people feel comfortable enough with him to talk about their spiritual questions, as well as their faith journeys.

The pastor appreciates a congregation where people mention to him something he said in a recent sermon that hit home in an experience they had not long after that.

The pastor appreciates people who initiate hugs.

The pastor appreciates people who ask him if they can pray for him.

The pastor appreciates children who give him high fives and are disappointed if there is a Sunday when there isn’t a children’s story time during morning worship.

The pastor appreciates sitting in Starbucks with someone who just needs to talk.

The pastor appreciates a congregation where the style of music is not nearly as important as the worship of God.

The pastor appreciates a youth group that sabotages his office.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that likes his Far Side cartoons that he posts outside his office.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that is inviting…and continuing. That is, they invite someone to come to church with them, and then continue the conversation over lunch.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that comes alongside persons with mobility problems.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that recognizes that they are living the Gospel.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that wants to make a difference in the community.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that lives out grace, not just expects to receive grace.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that becomes uncomfortable with the implications of the Gospel.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that he is not motivated or manipulated by money, and yet desires to make sure he receives a fair wage.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that sees value in each person, regardless of gender, age, race, financial or marital status.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that honors his day off, and, once in a while, even forces him to take a break.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that looks for ways that they can help him become more effective as a pastor.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that affirms, but also corrects.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that moves according to the voice of God, not according to who yells the loudest.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that claps!

The pastor appreciates a congregation where coffee can be taken into the sanctuary.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that is appreciative!

And perhaps most of all, the pastor appreciates a congregation that is appreciative long after October has passed!