Sandwich Counters, Bloody Knuckles and “Text Conversations”

OK…I know the title to this sounds completely off-the-wall.  But trust me, there will be a connection.  We’ve been challenging ourselves and our church to pursue the “something more” that we all feel is out there.  As a result, that’s been the topic of many “non-Sunday” conversations in the last few weeks. 

On Saturday, I was having a lunch meeting with Brent Triebel, who has finally retired from Cat, and has started a family-owned franchise for Jimmy John’s in Florida (he says it’s warmer there).  Anyway, as we were talking about his business, we began to discuss a book we have both read, “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless“, which I recommend highly.  The point we discussed was that for an average sandwich counter worker, they’re just counting hours.  It’s not something most of them are particularly excited about.  But if that person would just extend themselves, to go above and beyond with the customer, not only would the customer start to develop loyalty, but the sandwich maker would enjoy the workday much more.  It’s sort of a paradox, but the more a worker will give of themselves, the more they will enjoy the experience. 

That actually works in parallel with the spiritual principle of pursuing the “something more” that God has for us.  It requires extending ourselves.  It requires moving out of a comfortable mind-set, to go beyond the ordinary, the routine.  And in doing so, we begin to discover what life really is and can be.  But that requires taking some risks. 

Younger generations are much more prone to take risks these days, but not all risks make sense.  My youngest son came home yesterday with what looked like a broken hand.  He had decided to play bloody knuckles with several other kids….and apparently, they really were playing for blood.  His hand and knuckles were swollen like a grapefruit.  He said that several other kids were telling him he should stop, but he was determined to win.  [Part of me thinks that was unbelievably dumb, but part is also big-time proud that he could hang like that…. 🙂  ]

Regardless, it was definitely a risk…but it wasn’t really a risk worth taking.  Somehow or another, we find ways to justify pointless risks, but we shirk ones that can truly make a difference. 

Then, last night, as I was locking up the house, I saw the light on in my oldest son’s room.  It was 10:30 which is past his bedtime.  So I went to check.  He was “just finishing” (riiiight!) a text conversation with a friend on his cellphone.  (A “text” conversation still seems completely ludicrous to me…but hey…what do I know…I’m an old fogey these days).  Anyway, he told me that he had gotten into a conversation about God, and he didn’t think he could just cut it off. 

How can I be mad at that?  It was a risk in two ways…breaking his bed time and engaging in spiritual conversation with a friend.  But was it worth it?  Oh yeah!  He’s also decided to take a more active role with the youth in the church.  He’s going to lead a devotional this coming Sunday.  He’s never done it, but he said he feels good about it.  There’s a reason for that.  It goes back to the sandwich counter worker.  The more a worker extends themselves, the more satisfaction they feel.  And if we ever want to move into the realm that God has for us…to experience something more…we will have to extend ourselves…we will have to take risks…not bloody knuckles risks (although I’m still kinda proud), but risks that advance the purpose of God in the world.  And the more we do that, the more alive we will become. And the more alive we become, the more that the promise of something more becomes reality.   

So how ’bout you?  What are you risking now?  Anything?  What are you willing to risk?  What is God speaking into your heart RIGHT NOW that you have been afraid to attempt?  Are you ready to for something more?  Do you want to live a life that echoes in eternity?  Then let’s get going!  Share your stories here to be an encouragement. 

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2 Responses

  1. txtn may seem ludacrous as any new platform might be resisted but it’s a powerful communication format that can lend itself useful in ways more than a phone conversation can @ times…that’s awesome that zach was able to get into a conversation like that w/ his friend and I give him props…and Mark you’re not an old fogey..this blog is a fine example of you being hip! 😉 enjoying the frequent thoughts posted by you, this is something I’ve wanted since the days of Grove Grub. Keep it up!

  2. Hello … I am in Venezuela and trying to locate a very good old friend – “Mr. Brent Trieble”

    I met him in General Electric (GEVENSA) in Venezuela while working for Caterpillar and will appreciate if someone send me his address and phone number.

    If you want to learn about me, please visit my webpage.

    Kind regards, Rene T. Pupo

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