Sunday, April 13, 2008

Restaurants and Churches

This past Friday, my husband, a prince among men, took me away for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. We went to dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House and, if you have never dined there, you should make it a priority. This restaurant has long been known for its’ unmatched preparation of some of the finest beef to cross your lips and for its’ incredible service to its’ guests. While I was considering the amazing dining experience I was having, I was asking myself, as is my habit, what the church could learn from this. The wait staff there is careful to explain who Ruth Fertel was and what makes her establishment exceptional and, as our waiter, Julian, was talking, I made these observations.

Any good business is careful to train their staff by “indoctrinating them”, if you will, with the philosophy of its creator. All employees of Emeril's, for example, have been “Emerilized” with the beliefs and convictions of Emeril Lagasse. He, the creator of his restaurant, wants his patrons to be treated a certain way and to be given a dining experience that is unforgettable. It was just that way at Ruth’s Chris on Friday night—an indelible mark was made on me and I walked away from there not only supremely fed, but with a sense that I had somehow been touched by Ruth Fertel and what was important to her.

Many people serve others because they love people and serving them brings pleasure. This is, by definition, simple philanthropy and, while it may be deemed noble and sublime by the average Oprah viewer, it won’t get you very far. Oswald Chambers puts it succinctly this way, “If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.”

So what is my point? Those who take care of you in a fine establishment like Ruth’s Chris or Emeril’s are allowed to be there because they have been identified with the creator of the establishment and they are trained to leave the creators mark on every guest. What would the church look like if we all understood the heart of the Creator of the church and we acted on His behalf in every interaction with the unbelieving world? What if we were motivated only by the love of the Creator for His creation and we left, not our own interpretive mark, but His mark on every person we served? What if we allowed ourselves to become background, like the wait staff dressed all in black and white, and only His best was evident to those we serve, and they walked away impressed and changed, not by our service but by the touch and the vision of the Creator? Certainly the church, and all she touched, would never be the same.


Matthew May 1, 2008 at 9:55 PM  

Honestly...That is the best blog I have ever read. That qoute should be the driving force behind every believer, ...thanks Beth...I needed that