Guest Post, Marcus Goodyear: "The service is what matters"

For the next two weeks we’ll bring you some of the most interesting bloggers from the blogosphere all sharing what they learned from their first job. I already have a couple of dozen posts lined up, but there’s still room for you. Send me your idea here.

I first met Marcus Goodyear in 2007 at GodBlog in Las Vegas and I instantly liked him. A humble charm belies his brilliant mind and leadership ability. As the senior editor of The High Calling, he serves as my boss, overseeing the Weekly Calling that I am priviledged to author. And he’s a good manager, as he herds a gaggle of a couple of dozen part time workers from coast to coast with grace and persistent vision. He blogs occasionally at Good Word Editing, must most of his work is found at The High Calling. Here’s his submission to the project:

The Service is What Matters.

As a fifteen year old grocery bagger at Jumbo Foods in Enid, Oklahoma, I had two mantras.
“Would you like paper or plastic?” and “Let me help you to your car with these bags.”
The first was a real question. Some people preferred paper. Some plastic. As the bagger, I did my best to quickly sort and pack food without damaging anything. I thought of it as Tetris. Just keep up with the stuff coming down the conveyor belt. Smile and look happy. Juggle the canned goods away quickly. Group the fruits with grapes on top, nestled in the curve of a banana cluster. Be especially careful with eggs and bread.
The second was something we always offered. We were the store that served people well. Sometimes people gave me a tip, I think, but my memory is hazy on that point. You’d think I would remember that.
Instead, what I remember is loading groceries into a corvette and wondering about the impracticalities of grocery shopping in a corvette. I remember standing on the curb with several baskets from different customers, waiting for each to drive their cars over so I could load their trunk. I remember bagging groceries at the registers. I remember bagging ice in the back room until my hands were numb. I remember the great joy of being asked to burn stuff in the incinerator. I remember mopping the concrete floors late in the evening.
I was too young to run the register or drive the forklift. I couldn’t work late because of my age. But I worked hard on the weekends, helping people with their food.
It was a store that focused on customer service. I don’t necessarily remember any pep talks from the manager, but I knew that customer service was important. I was there to serve people, the customers, the cashiers, the other employees, even the manager.
That’s the lesson. Good work always begins with good service. Today, I manage a large online team, I write articles about faith and work, and I serve a nonprofit funded by a grocery store. I don’t know if that’s irony or destiny.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter. I get up every morning and head to work so I can continue serving people as best as I can. Sometimes people give me money for good service. Sometimes they don’t. Once I’ve paid my bills, I mostly don’t worry about it.
The service is what matters.
So how about you? For the next couple of weeks I’ll be highlighting voices from around the world, reflecting on what you learned at your first job. Send me a note here and join in! Click here to subscribe and not miss a single post. 
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Posted in Customer service, high calling, Marcus Goodyear, service first, what i learned from my first job | 44 Comments

Keep the light burning

I had a friend once who’s life took a series of ugly turns. He ended up being just bad news, with no job, no family and no faith, having turned his back on everything. Seeing nothing but darkness, I walked away.  Years later I heard that he recovered and was a brilliant example of grace and restoration — and I missed it.

The LA Times last week reported a most interesting story. In 1935, a neon light was installed to backlight a forest scene in Clifton’s Cafeteria in old Los Angeles. Along with a bank of other lights, it created an escape from the urban life for diners.
A few years later, in 1949, the cafeteria was renovated with a different theme and a partion covered the forest scene.
Fast forward to this year. A bulding inspection revealed a soft glow coming through beams, a faint light. They tore apart a section of the wall, and there it was. That neon light was still glowing.

It seems that during the last rennovation, someone forgot to turn off the electricity and the light has been burning ever since. That light has now been burning for 77 years.

Normally, neon lights max out at 40 years before the glass detiorates. Why did this last so long? Hidden from view, no one really cared. But when the old boards were finally torn away, it’s glow was still bright.
I’m thinking about my own life. When I was 20, I was newly married and full of excitement to serve God. Maybe missions. Maybe the pastorate. Maybe full time work at a school. But two kids later and life got in the way. I put up walls over that light and passion. Then there was disobedience, sin and shame. In many ways that zeal was sealed up and forgotten. But the light glowed through the crack, a constant reminder of the truth I have known.

Photo courtesy LA Times

My friend Tim first brought this article to my attention, and he saw it as an application to the culture at large. He observed that the light was intentionally covered over in the name of progress and modernization. That’s true. Society always has a better way, a way without God. But Tim was also a man who knew my light when others thought it had departed — and never gave up on me. 

I have grown children whose lights seem boarded over with youth, career and apathy. But it’s still there for them. And for others in my life. I just can’t give up on them, because a few people never gave up on me. 

The light keeps on burning

Posted in Clifton Cafeteria, Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Is retirement an option for the Christian?

What are you working for? Do you look forward to the day when you take advantage of 4 P.M. early bird menus, who-cares-when schedules and golfing at noon? Or do you have plans – big plans for God.
“My husband has just checked out.”  The exasperated woman confessed her frustration at a workshop I was at last weekend. Apparently, her husband hit a certain age, began drawing a retirement check, and decided his ministry years were over. He had an impressive background, including serving as a vice-president of a major Christian relief organization. He had a lifetime of giving, ministering and helping the helpless. In his mind, his work was over.
His days are now spent in front of the television and fretting about his next doctor’s appointment.
What a waste.
I contrast this with my friend Jack, who passed away recently at the age of 89. Although he retired from his railroad job 25 years earlier, he never really retired from ministry. He simply replaced the hours he had spent on the job with hours for God.
He volunteered tirelessly at church, folding chairs, cleaning toilets, teaching classes, and helping pastors. He visited the sick, counseled the confused and loved the loveless.
I’m more than a few years away from retirement, but I’m wondering what my life will look like? The idea of checking out doesnt appeal to me. While a golf game on a Wednesday morning has it’s appeal, it really doesn’t make a real impact on the world.
What do you think? Are you retired? How do you fill your days?
And if you aren’t retired, how will you spend your post-work time?
I would love to hear your comments here.

Posted in Retirement, Retirement Planning | 18 Comments

A little water won’t hurt

It’s always interesting to see how informal groups quickly fall behind a person.  There’s always somebody that has the magnetism and the drive that others recognize. Every group needs a leader, otherwise it will quickly fall apart.

The ragtag group called “the disciples” were obviously led by Peter. Full of vim, vigor and bluster he seemd to be the first one to make the leap. He wanted to show the world that he was a true believer.

He stood in the courtyards and tried to keep the mobs from trampling his Lord. Running the security detail, he was the one who pulled the sword in the Garden. When times got tough, he rallied the troops. He was the muscle behind the message. 

So it’s no surprise that he was the first one out of the boat.

Oh. The boat. The one that Jesus sent to the other side and a storm kicked, threatening to capsize the boat. And then suddenly, walking on the water, He appeared. The disciples were relieved and simultaneously scared out of their wits.

Not Peter. “Let me walk,” he said. “I can do this.”

He actually did — but then, the reality of the situation gripped him. There’s no ground, nothing solid to stand on. He realized that he wasn’t supposed to do this and he began to sink.

And I think that was a good thing. It still is. So what if you sink. So what if your nostrils fill with water and you push up with all your flailing strength just to get a gasp of air. So what if you feel like this time, it’s the end.

Photo by  Whitney Thorne
We could all use a little sinking in our lives, in order to build reliance on the unsinkable One. We all could stand to go hungry for a day, to lose a little sleep, to miss a paycheck, to lose a friend.
When you’re in the middle of adversity, when you miss a breath, you feel like it’s the end. It isn’t.

What if we didnt know where our next meal would come from, if we would have another hour, if we couldn’t be sure of the next breath. Utter reliance isn’t such a bad thing.

We could all stand to lose something, in order to gain everything.

I’m not afraid to sink, and I won’t drown.

Also read Larry Hehn’s, “No Pain, No Gain”

Posted in adversity, drown, no gain, sink | 20 Comments

Can we ever trust again?

Trust is a critical component — in the workplace, in the home, in churches and in politics. Nothing will derail good intentions faster than a lack of trust.

Many of our societal ills come from a lack of trust. Government manipulation of data to support the Vietnam War, capped by Watergate started the modern-day distrust of authority. Investigative reporters became a standard at most newsrooms.

And before you knew it, every authority figure was looked at askance, as if anything they said was a lie. Suddenly, liars were everywhere – or so it seemed. Prominent church leaders, politicians and journalists have all fallen from their precarious perches. Companies crumbled and took their shareholders and pensioners savings down with them.

Can we ever trust again?

Does a Christian have more credibility than a non Christian? I think we need to be clarions of truth, never stretching the truth for our own benefit. Our word means nothing when we say one thing and then do another. “Let your yes be yes.”

Trust isn’t complicated. It’s earned through words and backed by actions. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, as I reap daily the bad fruit from lies told long ago.

What are your feelings on trust? Are you cyical, jaded and distrusting everyone? Do you find that your lack of trust causes you to limp along? What would life be like if you trusted again?

“Uphold me in the common strife
Give me the grace to work and plan
And in the marketplace of life
O keep me, Lord, an honest man.


Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

How to Find an Upside in This Down Economy

We all know people who have been laid off, fired or whose jobs have disappeared altogether. For millions, months have now turned into years of unemployment or under-employment. Maybe this is you.

I have a friend — John — who lost his job. His attitude was amazing. With a wife and children at home, he could have, he should have gotten angry. But instead his very first reaction was of expectancy. “I don’t like it. I don’t understand it. But I look forward to seeing the hand of God in our lives,” he wrote in his journal on the day he was laid off.

In the same position, I probably would have said things and done things that were far less holy. I might have even given God—and my boss—a piece of mind. But John immediately saw the possibility of an upside in his down world.

While the world sees brokenness, we (should) see blessings. While the market sees chaos, we see order emerging. While friends and family see despair, we can find hope. That’s who we are.

Read the rest of this article about my friend John which is featured this week over at Christianity Today, Men of Integrity.
How are you faring in this down economy? What lessons have you learned?

Photo by David Rupert

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Going back to the rubble

In the end, it all lies in rubble(Photo credit: OldOnliner)

Have you ever opened up a desk drawer and promptly closed it because it was just too messy to deal with.

Some of us have chapters of our lives that we wish weren’t part of our history. There is abundant counsel and books that go to great lengths to help us “deal with it.” The problem is that there seems to be so little to deal with.  For me, when I look back at those years, when I survey the landscape, all I see is rubble.

It’s a tangled, twisted mess . Worse of all, I can’t change history, especially the actions of others. I’m not alone in dealing with yesterday. I bet there are days, or months, or years you wish you could just rip the pages out of the  calendar of time and throw them away. But you can’t.

There’s an African concept called Sankofa. If your village burns down, you go back to it and pick through the rubble, rescuing what you can. You then leave, simple possessions in hand, to your new home. “It’s not wrong to go back for that what you’ve forgotten”.

There’s an acknowledgement of trial and tragedy, and a simple thankfulness for what still remains.

Going back is problematic, because I do have to face certain truths about others – and myself. But within that rubble of relationship and circumstance are some diamonds, some precious things that survived the heat and the flame. There are things that cannot be destroyed that can go with me.

When I focus on the circumstance, it’s all too easy to play the victim, to rub the soot on my face and wait for others to give a little pity. But By doing so, I drag them, unwittingly, to the ruins, to the scene of the crime.

So I have a few precious things that I have recovered, memories that I cherish.

And I have a Rock that survived the flame. In my new home, I select an even spot on the ground and place it, tamping it down so it doesn’t move. I then find another rock to stack. And then another. 

We draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it — Lyndon Johnson
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” Phillipians 3:13

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Posted in Thankfulness | 22 Comments