Sometimes I get bitter and dissatisfied. Because I am ninety percent done with an intensive Master’s degree from the world’s best theological school. And I work at Starbucks and serve coffee to often ungrateful and presumptuous twits who think I am some doof just there to cater to their expensive caffeine addiction. I then see guys at school who get hooked up, being paid for doing research, or writing or anything where you don’t have to stand up and give people hot or blended beverages. And like I said, I get bitter. And all of this paragraph, in case you didn’t realize, is how my pride deals with the situation.
Then God hits me in the face with something called a wifely beatdown. I may have shared this story before, but it really impacted me; so I’m going to tell it again. Some months ago, there was a convention of many thousands of churchy folks in Louisville. They were a demanding, ungrateful, and un-tipping group. One day, an elderly one of the lot was at the counter at the Starbucks where I work. My wife happened to be there too. The woman was less than pleasant, and, mostly, seemed indifferent to the fact that I was there taking her order.
“Did you see that?” I asked Laura. “That was typical of how this entire group has been.”
“Well, I mean,” she said, “You are here to serve them.”
It was one of those punchy, Spirit-led “encouragements” that God has graciously ordained through marriage for my lame sinful behind. It convicted me. A lot.
If I can’t serve people coffee with a joyful, gracious heart, how can I expect that I will serve people God’s Word in a different way?
Though it’s less than flashy, and not very good for the ego, Starbucks has been for me a rigorous course in pastoral training. It’s learning how to serve people, many of whom are wonderful and many of whom are jerks. Jesus died for people, not for ideas. Because of that I want to work with people, the same types who come in to Starbucks. Because those are the same kinds of people who Jesus bought with his blood.
It makes my feet hurt more than research or writing. But I’m convinced it’s better for my soul and the souls of my future congregation. I have learned as much at Starbucks Coffee as I have at Southern Seminary. For that, I am grateful.