It had been a long day and I still had several things left on my schedule. Not having eaten all day, I planned on going through the drive-thru. I decided I really just needed to sit still for a few minutes, so I went inside. After I got my food, I found a booth that faced the front of the restaurant.
When I sat down to eat, it quickly became evident that there was something different about this place. I watched the manager walk back and forth talking to all his workers, but he wasn’t giving them orders or talking about work as one would expect. He was patting them on the back, joking and laughing with them, giving quick hugs, and resting his hands on their shoulders or forearms as he spoke with them. A couple of workers on break were eating in a booth in front of me. The manager came over, rested his arms on the booth and began to talk with them. I heard laughter and good natured quips; they seemed like old friends. During the shift change, a couple of workers were coming and going; each worker was met at the door with a hug from the manager, a genuine smile and interest in their wellbeing. The workers too seemed to enjoy talking, joking, and being playful with the manager. They would elbow him, or play wrestle with him for a few moments before returning to their task. I had never seen anything like this at a restaurant, let alone a fast food restaurant. They all seemed to enjoy working here, they seemed to be friends, and seemed to share in each others lives beyond work. I had to talk to this manager!
I asked for a moment of his time and told him that I noticed and appreciated the atmosphere of openness, friendliness, fun, and care he seemed to generate around him. I told him I noticed his personal touch with each of his employees. It wasn’t just a handshake; it was a hug, a slap on the back, a reassuring touch on the forearm, or a playful jab.
He told me that he was intentional about making sure everyone who worked there felt like they were loved and part of a family. He said everyone had to work to make ends meet, so he figured he had to make it the best environment possible so that work didn’t just feel like work. He was keen to know what was happening in their lives, with their family and friends. He wanted them to know he cared for them as individuals. He wanted people to feel good when they came into the restaurant. I was so impressed!
Imagine if every person who came to church felt like they were coming into a family. Imagine if culture, background, or ethnicity didn’t keep us at a distance from each other. Imagine if everyone knew they were cared for and loved. Imagine if when people came to church, they didn’t just feel like they were coming to church.