"What was that again?"
(Slower) - "I'll have a Tall green tea ... sweetened ... with light ice."
"What size would you like?
"What kind of tea?"
"Would you like that sweetened?"
"Will that be all?"
"Light on the ice, please."
And so went the exchange with a barista a few days ago.
One thing was obvious, the barista wasn't listening or paying attention to anything I said. Thus, the need to twice repeat myself.
Such poor customer service is all too common among businesses today. That lack of genuine interest in serving others well is just as common in the church.
"Joe! Good to see you, how are you?"
"Well, so-so, things are kind of tough now that I'm unemployed ..."
"Great! And how's the wife and kids?"
"Well, the wife is worried about my being out of work, and we don't have any kids yet ..."
"Right! Well I'll be praying for ya Joe. Good to see you!"
That kind of exchange between two people in the church demonstrates as much genuine care as does the exchange with the barista who didn't care about my order. It highlights a profound reality:
We don't listen to people we don't care about.
When we care, we tune our focus clearly onto what the other person is saying, and we respond in a manner that reflects real caring.
When we care, we do pray for the well being of others, but we also fully respond. We take measure of the other person's need, and our capacity to meet it. Then we act without having to be asked.
We do that because, from our head to our heart, our hands to our feet, we care!
Caring is more than an emotion, or distant fifteen-second inclusion in a hurried prayer list. Caring is stepping into the lives of others with the love of Christ and acting in His name as He would with the resources He has provided.
"14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, 'Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well'—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless," James 2:14-17.
Faith is a springboard for caring.
At least it should be.