4 Questions to Ask Regarding Your Manner

catering-graphicI was on my way to the office and had stopped at the nearest Subway to get a sandwich.  There were three or four people in line.  The man at the cash register was talking with a customer who was picking up an order he had called in.  The customer was a big guy.  He was loud and intense.

The Subway employee was attempting to complete the transaction at the cash register.  The “giant subs” this customer had ordered were boxed and on the counter.  It appeared these sandwiches were for a group of people.

The guy was complaining about the price.  The cashier responded in a normal tone of voice and was very polite and professional.  Meanwhile, the customer became more intense about the purchase.  He said that he wasn’t about to pay the stated price and then demanded loudly that the price be adjusted to what he thought it should be.  He said that he had placed this same order a number of times in the past and it had been significantly less.

Then the guy said something that really got my attention:

“I’ve given you my tax exempt I.D. number and I know what the price ought to be!”

I cringed.  The guy was picking up something for a church.  Not only was he making a scene but he was letting everyone know that he represented a church.

Finally, the cashier adjusted the price, gave the guy some change back, and said nervously, “Uh, bless your church.”

It is true that the customer may have been overcharged.

It is true that the situation would be frustrating.

It is also true that sometimes you may have to discuss with a store a discrepancy in price.

However, Christ-followers are called not only to use appropriate words but also to display an appropriate manner.

What does my manner say about me?

1.  Does my manner suggest that I am going to be reasonable and fair in the way I deal with others?

2.  Does my manner communicate that I sincerely want to treat another right even when I am frustrated?

3.  Does my manner reflect well on the community of people I represent?

4.  Does my manner reflect well on Jesus who dwells in me?

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  • Phillip

    Ugh! This reminds me of the oft-repeated claim that the Sunday after-church crowd is the worst for restaurant servers. But I think there is something to the claim. Every year in one of my gen ed Bible classes I ask the students who have worked as servers who the most difficult customers are, and they with few exceptions (some mention rowdy sports fans) point to the after-church crowd, saying they are often demanding, rude, and don’t tip well. I know not all Christians (I hope most) are not like this, but it is telling that every year I get the same response from my students. What kind of witness is this?

    This discussion usually comes up in the context of the Sabbath, and we talk about not only enjoying rest, but also providing rest for others. One way to live that out would be to show consideration and kindness to the busy, under-appreciated, often over-worked and low paid server or person behind the counter. It also would help to tip well.

    • Jim Martin

      Phillip, you are right. This is an oft-repeated claim, but unfortunately as you said, there is something to this. I’ve known too many people who verify this again and again. Very sad. As you said, this is not much of a witness.

      I appreciate the second paragraph of your comment. I agree that there are a number of ways that we can express kindness and consideration to these people and live out the gospel in a more authentic way.

  • Josh

    I think the underlying issue here is a sense of entitlement that most people have, and it is not effected by their walk with God. It seems that each time something of this nature is pointed out, people are much more interested in establishing their ‘right’ to be upset, rather than representing Christ to the world. For this very reason I always tip more when I go out with the after church crowd on Sunday afternoons. I have found the only way to get through is to lead by example, I just pray for the times when I am weak and stumble in this area, because I do.

    • Jim Martin

      Josh, you make a great point. That sense of entitlement often emphasizes our “rights” instead of allowing the gospel to shape the way we treat these people. Thanks Josh.

  • http://kingdomseeking.com K. Rex Butts

    I witnessed the same thing several years back in a very crowded and busy Denny’s at the Best Western hotel that was hosting a major YoungLife event. The table next to us was very rude because it was taking the the understaffed serving crew longer to get everyone’s order, get the food served, etc… The youth pastor began making a big stink which got his youth group laughing. After throwing a tirade, he made a point to tell the waitress that she was only getting a penny for her tip.

    However…and this is where the story finds redemption…after one of the boys at my table (I had four teenage boys with me) noticed with disgust what had happened, the four boys decided to put a couple extra dollars each down on that table.

  • http://www.godhungry.org Jim Martin

    What a story! Sad. This story reminds me that we teach so much in what we model. (I need to remember this!)

    Love the way the story ends.

    • lelias31

      The question should be does Jesus dwell in him.. A true disciple of Christ does not act that way.. I recently was asked prayed for a couple that were having so much conflict.. The wife claimed to be a Christian for 17 years. The husband was turned off by the “Christian ways” is how he discribed it. Now I have known the wife longer always very sweet, can recite the bible like the back of her hand.. prays beautifully… As I walked in a Feud broke out in front of me and their children… Now this sweet beautiful Christian lady was not so sweet and surely did not practice what the bible says.. Her husband stopped speaking and she continued! I prayed for her and her family and asked God to reveal to me what the source was. He responded” she is deceived, not everyone that calls me ‘Lord Lord’will enter my kingdom.” “But Lord” I said she can speak of your verses so beautifully and knows them so well!” He responded, ” even the devil knows the word!” Wow! So again I ask is he really who he claimed to be?? I know we as Christians are not perfect but those of us that strive to be like Him..would simply just not act like that.. Amen?

      • Jim Martin

        Thank you very much, Laura, for your comment. Your story is a reminder that Christ-followers are called to a certain kind of life, even when angry. For some reason, some of us are all for following Jesus when things are calm and their is no threat. However, we are called to follow him even in difficult marriages, family relationships and friendships. Rather than simply forging ahead and reacting, we might do well to pray for power beyond ourselves.