4/13/2010

Ministry Lessons From the Retail World: Part 2...

Since the end of this past October (and while I've continued looking for another job in ministry), I've been working a job at a rather large national retail store chain. There have been times that I've loved it and times that... well, not so much. But I've been learning a lot.

It's been super interesting to see how a secular, large, corporate, company trains its employees to do the job they're being hired to do. In fact, back in November, I wrote a blog post on some ministry lessons from the retail world. Well, it's been about five months, and I've been thinking about some more things I can learn from my job in the retail world that can help me in ministry.

Here's a few more things I've learned...


1) Sometimes the people that we serve don't respond to us the way that we want them to... We spend a lot of time doing things for our customers. We clean the store, put up signs to show sales, organize, assist in finding what they're looking for, do pricing research, restock, train team members, etc. We try to acknowledge each customer when they come into our department or area by asking "Can I help you find something?" But even after doing all of these things with the customer in mind, there are times when they'll snap at us. I've had a customer walk up to me and start a conversation with "I'm very upset!"

Does this sound familiar? Try switching out my job with a ministry context. Yep. In ministry, everything we do is to help those we've been put in leadership over. But sometimes, no matter how hard or selflessly we work, people still treat us poorly. Or maybe they don't treat us poorly, maybe they just don't respond at all. But their response isn't our responsibility. Our responsibility is to do our best in order to honor God.

Which leads right into number two...

2) Sometimes you have to let things roll off your back... There are times when a customer has come into the store already in a bad mood. So, of course, no matter what we do to help them isn't good enough. When I first started at the store, I really let this get me down. But I soon discovered that, as long as I do my best to serve, a customer's poor attitude is rarely my fault. It's usually something that happened on their way in that has them feeling crabby.

But I've got to say, as someone who skews heavily on the "feeler" side of the myers-briggs, this is something that I still struggle with. It's definitely a discipline to learn to let things roll off your back. At least, for "feelers" it is. But it's important. If you let every arrow the enemy slings at you go through your armor, you won't last very long in the battle. You'll bleed to death...

3) You've got to give people a chance to shine... When I started working at the store, I found out that I had quite a few bosses. Like, somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 (give or take a few). Now, out of all of those bosses, I worked especially close with three of them. And they're great. Like, really great. And, since the beginning of February, two of them have left to pursue other opportunities. Do you know why? Because they wanted to advance, but weren't getting the opportunity to do so. Both had been with the company for 5+ years.

Now, I know that in ministry it's not always possible to hire someone on and help them advance up the organizational ladder, but it is possible to give them more responsibility. (Providing they can handle it.) Look for ways to allow a leader to use their gifts and talents. Give them chances to do so! Believe me, they want to!

4) You've got to take a break... The rules at my job are simple. For every four hour shift you work, you get a fifteen minute (paid) break. For every six hour shift, a fifteen and a thirty minute lunch (unpaid). And for every eight hour shift, you get two fifteens (paid) and a thirty (unpaid). You're required by law to take the thirty. You're strongly encouraged to take the fifteens. They recognize how important it is to rest so that you don't get exhausted.

You might be thinking "duh". But why is it so difficult for those of us in ministry to understand this?

One of my bosses is getting ready to go on vacation next week. He told me the other day that he takes vacation just before the holidays (Thanksgiving), and just after (Easter). He recognizes the time of year when the job is most stressful, goes away before to get charged up, and goes away after to recover. So simple... So tough... So necessary...

And yet, so many of us in ministry fail to recognize this as an important command from God!

If we don't want to burn out, we've got to regularly refuel...

1 comment:

aliiangel said...

What's funny is I can tell people to rest easily and find the time for them to do so, but I myself feel like I can't do it, or I'lll hurt someone. or God's given me the opportunity not to... there's a hundred exuses why I don't want to break... good reminder, thanks Josh