May 5, 2008

My Habit of Making People Mad...

The old adage "If it walks like a duck..." has been on my mind lately. Within a short span of a few weeks I've encountered more circumstances of making people angry with me then I feel my flesh is comfortable with. I've been assessing, examining, questioning, and measuring this behavior against the Scriptures and what the Christian example is to entail. It's seeming to be a slight irony that I've been studying I Peter this month. What I've experienced pales in comparison to the Saints Peter was addressing, but the principle sure is transferable.

Being in a customer service environment during a high-pace and short handed lunch rush is not one of my favorite situations to endure as a Manager. But, this happens more often than not and does not seem to have any end in sight. During these situations one can become stretched thin and unable to provide every single individual with the service they (entitled?) to. When customers don't obtain their expected level of service they become hostile and very angry with management.Often, I find that management is me. Oh for joy!

Let me get to my point here, before I go off into a tangent and miss my purpose. These particular situations have seemed to result in more than just an average angry customer experience. I've managed to be physically threatened twice inside of a week. These are not your average threats either. Without disclosing the colorful language shared by the angry customers it could be said that they desired to, "Wipe the floor clean with me."

I'd like to justify their reactions based on their personal dispositions, unregenerate states, or drug addictions (a demographic we get often), or own faults; But, I am inclined to examine myself and the reactions I give them that may provoke them to anger (James 1:19-22). This first and usual initial reaction to respond negatively is a consistent and daily struggle. This struggle is not within conformation of my managerial responsibilities, nor my conduct as a Christian and disciple of Christ's Words. This is something I strive to work on daily and pray to crucify it with all other sin.

So here's I Peter again, telling me what to do in situations where my behavior is ultimately a reflection of God's glory. If I fail to assume my duty and practice the precepts of my Lord, then i fail to participate in this reflection of truth for those who in the end will see what they've rejected.

Whilst attempting to practice patience, virtue, and a loving manner with customers/people who have become expectant of a "serve me first" attitude, I need to keep in mind that they are ignorant of what is going on behind the scenes. The personal, self-righteous, self-absorbed, and total depravity of human nature plays a major role in this matter. It blinds the individuals who often scream tolerance in the defense of others being offended, while they fail to see the offense they cause in their treatment of those who do not cater to their whims on their terms. While I very well may work for the conglomerate who has helped propagate the "My Way" attitude of our fast-food nation, I surely don't see how that excuses people in their treatment of the workers who provide that service. After all, how can you expect an unskilled profession to be flawless in all that it provides?


if this blog were a bone it would be humerus said...

Yup...mmmhmmm...and amen. I struggle with, shall we say, customer relations as well. I work in Troy, so I'm very familiar with the "serve me" attitude. But of late, I've been learning that having to cater to that attitude to some degree, is very good for MY pride. To serve some of the most ungrateful people is very eye-opening and causes me to realize that I too am highly ungrateful. I too am often selfish. I too was once unregenerate. And so, of late, I've been finding myself praying for customers, whether rude or not. And trying "extra hard" to show the 'difficult' ones Christ in me. While my pride obviously doesn't like it, I'm so glad that Christ is allowing me to see my pride, and putting me in humbling situations. He's also done so with my family, which seems to be the area in which I have the most problem with "making people angry with me." My mouth gets me into trouble, and I can usualy trace that back to selfish foolish pride. But praise God that he corrects those whome He loves. His blood is sufficient--His grace is enough--abundantly enough. :)

Jennifer said...

James, what a blessing this post was to me! I have been HATING my job for the past week or so, for many of the same reasons. If it makes you feel any better, the same thing happens at big universities. It amazes me how lazy and demanding students can be. I am working my tail off to get people graduated and it never fails -- all the extremely lazy and needy people come out of the woodwork at this time. My favorite question: "Can you tell me what classes are being offered?" It takes extreme discipline for me not to get an attitude and respond, "Why don't you try looking at the schedule?"

I even found myself using the excuse that I'm a native New Yorker and I'm still not used to living in the south, where things are at a more relaxed pace. But the truth is, my reaction is because of indwelling sin within me.

One thing I would say is that we can't just do this on our own. I prayed last night and this morning and specifically asked the Holy Spirit to fill me with joy and I had a notably better day at work today, despite my circumstances.

I am sure your Christlike reaction made an impact on someone today. Be encouraged!

James said...

That's the thing. Today, it seemed to get progressively worse again. Not only did I get reamed first thing this morning by a customer and told to learn how to add, I got it again by another who didn't like the store's policies on adding tomato's to a breakfast sandwich. OH MAN! I want to work somewhere else so bad. Now the boss has me on his hit list for "straightening things out." As I said in the post, more and more this situation is about me, and more and more I have to battle with my tongue and my pride and learn to just keep my mouth shut.

It makes me think of turning the other cheek in instances of an attack on personal dignity. Thats what it essentially equates to doesn't it? Our pride gets challenged, this translates to an insult of our dignity, and we respond in a manner that will "set things straight." This has been a challenge since becoming a Christian, as I was always one to let you know your place, and your place was definitely not in the way of my pride and ego.

Pray, pray, pray...

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