Thinking Out Loud

November 6, 2016

If God’s Name is on the Shop Door, Customer Service Should be Exemplary

closed signAnyone who has worked retail knows that closing time can be a challenge. Staff are tired and want to go home, but store policies do try to put customers and their needs first.

In the bulk food environment my wife worked in, staff were not allowed at all to do anything to communicate the store was closed. Not a word. Not a hint. The door would be locked quietly, but customers in before that closing — by which I mean the exact posted closing time — could continue to complete their purchases.

In the Christian bookstore environment I’ve worked in our commitment to our customers has always been superlative. I found it took me at least 15 minutes to balance the cash anyway, and I often kept the door unlocked and the sign on “OPEN” until I was actually leaving. When I see the end in sight, I might cut the sound system, and if it doesn’t impede the part of the store they’re shopping in, I might cut one of the light circuits after 30 minutes. I’ve also been known to say, “You can stay as long as you wish, but just let me know if you’ll be paying by cash or plastic.” I’ve also kept open for a few minutes only to have another person walk in who turns out to be the biggest sale of the day.

So I’m a little surprised at the approach taken by a chain of Christian thrift shops in Canada that is clearly identifiable as a Christian organization. (No, not St. Vincent de Paul and not Salvation Army.)

We entered at 3:43 for a 4:00 closing. We were told, “We’re closing now, but you look like you can power-shop.” I checked the sign on the door. I pulled out my phone. “It’s only 3:43;” I grumbled to myself and a guy looking at CDs overheard and said, “She’s always mean.”

Mean? That’s her reputation?

At 3:48 a guy came and was told the store was closed. He walked out. Another incident at 3:54 with the same result.

“Actually, you’re still open;” I said to another staff member, pulling out my phone.

“We don’t go by your phone;” she said, “We go by the clock on the wall.”

I looked at the clock on the wall. “They’re the same;” I told her.

What matters here is that this is a mentality that exists in some thrift shop environments that has no place at all in a Christian institution.

In the Christian bookstore I mentioned, our abiding principle is that we want to be “a place of grace.”

I asked the woman if she felt that this closing policy reflected well on the organization whose name appears in the store’s name. So then (sorry about this) I played the WWJD card. Would Jesus turn people away at 3:48?

“Everyone is free to set their own policies.”

I asked her — very pleasantly — if she was a Christian.

“That’s irrelevant;” she said. I was not expecting that answer, served up in the way she delivered it; but I was done pressing her buttons.

I called the staff associate that was working for us that day. “Don’t ever pressure anyone to leave, unless you’re facing a personal emergency;” I told her; “I will pay you for however long it takes to meet their needs.”


December 21, 2010

Joyce Meyer/Beth Moore Piece is this Blog’s #1 Post for 2010

On that penultimate day in January when I posted an article about Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer, I had no idea that months later, people would still be seeking out the pictures of the house where Joyce lives, which appears to be the main reason “Who Exactly Is Teaching The Women in Your Church” is the #1 post at Thinking Out Loud for 2010.

I have no regrets posting those pictures.    I don’t know if readers in the Christian blogosphere would have uncovered the work of a local journalist, and I thought that the photos should be more public.   I believe that while all Christians are accountable to God, people in ministry enter a public life not unlike politicians, which demands greater accountability.

James 3: 1-2a, The Message Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths.

And then there was this comment, posted just today by Ryan, which brings much of this into focus:

Wow, I can’t believe people here are bashing the post.  It’s a simple concept that this is portraying.

Let me give you a scenario:  I’m asking YOU for your hard earned-limited money so I can promote the work of God say like, going to a third world country to help out some folks and buy food to take over there, plus to maintain the food supply to adequately feed them…and lets add to the cause of building an orphanage in Capetown, Africa.  I do that right? I do what’s promised and I can show proof.  However, if I’m living in a 20-million dollar mansion and/or driving around in a flashy expensive 7 digit car and/or flying around in my G6-I guess the real question is do I need your money which could go towards a more needing facilitator?

I’m going to be a dentist and all I can think about is what can I do more?  Not what can I get more of?  With me, the question is how many more mouths could I feed rather than living a lavish lifestyle on this temporary earth?

Which matters more to God? The acres I own or the acres I sacrificed to own? Doesn’t God say all these things will pass away? So why the need to own beyond what is necessary?

I’m not bashing anyone just stating facts and what posses a threat to what we are really called to do (be Gods hands and feet to the least of these)?   If I wasn’t a Christian I would dismiss all the good works that these people have done by the base of the $$$$ materialistic things they posses.

These things use to be important to me till I went on a mission trip. Changed my whole life and where I wanted a Lamborghini – big house – fancy car – maid service – everything that MY money could buy;  I would rather build a church and orphanage somewhere or do something that helps someone. You fill in the blank… They said this trip will mess up your life and it did, but in a GOOD way.

…I used to believe in the whole famous “Kingdom Prosperity” until God changed my heart.  Why are you giving?  To get something back?  So, on the pretenses of “if” – but only if I get something back I will give.  That’s the only reason why you give?  Your heart is in the wrong place.  Did Jesus die (give) his life in the expectancy of (getting) your life in return?  Nope, it was by choice.  He knew he would be denied by many, but still GAVE his life without the need to “GET”.  We are to be Christ “like” so that means to give without the expectancy of a return.

If you haven’t already, you can read the original post and comments here.   I’m going to close comments on this page so that additional responses may be added to the original piece.

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