Thursday, March 17, 2005

Mall and Ministry

I was useless today. Not productive. No errands run or chores completed by me. I’ve been known to value myself based on how much I accomplish. Not today. I was a slug.

I had my hair cut. I snuggled with the Old Man Cat. I went to the Mall.

I did learn a lesson today. While at the Mall, I asked a sales clerk where to find X. She didn’t know, didn’t try to find it. I smiled and walked away. At the next department, I asked a sales clerk for help finding a window valance. She said to look in the comforter and bedspreads. Ok. That was some direction for the search. I asked the third sales clerk where the "really good bargains were" and she said with a toss of her head, "Back there." Ok. I began my search for the best bargain in the department.

The window valances were not with the comforters and bedspreads. I found them in other places. I found X by myself and on sale. The "really good bargains" were in the back but when I brought them to the cashier area I was ignored by the two salesclerks standing within five feet of me who were chatting. I lost interest in one item and put it back. I bought the other item but the salesclerk was indifferent.

Granted that retail jobs at large department stores at the Mall aren’t the brain-snapping, pulse-pounding, intellectually stimulating pleasures of the Age. I know this. However, I do think that if you work in sales it makes sense to know your stock and sell it. Move that stuff out the door!
Thinking about this as I drove home in the crawling traffic of life here in the Backwater, I began to think of my experiences at the department store and it’s similarities to ministry.

For example, how often do I give directions to seekers in the most off-handed manner that does not invite further questions from them? How often do I blow off interest in the church by assuming things that may not fit the situation? Do I seem indifferent to those who approach me?
Do I know my "stock" so that I can answer questions about it? Can I move people INTO the doors of a church?

I dunno.

May God forgive me if I am indifferent to others. Forgive me when I am arrogant and withholding of myself in the face of need and questions about God. May I be approachable, please. Help me to be available to those who are searching. Amen.

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