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The Gift of Service


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A couple from the United States traveled to Beijing with their six-month-old baby girl. This was the couple’s first child and they were understandably nervous about traveling with her on a 16-hour flight. They called the hotel before their trip to inquire about babysitting services and the hotel’s facilities. When they arrived in Beijing, the hotel gave them a warm welcome to put them at ease. The family was escorted to their room, where the hotel had set up a baby tub with rubber ducks, a baby bottle steamer, milk warmer and a night light for the guests. The hotel also placed a humidifier in the room since the family might not be used to the extremely dry conditions in Beijing. The family was overwhelmed by the hotel’s attention to detail.

However, upon arrival, the young baby developed a rash on her neck and body. The babysitter and room attendant came to assist on her day off. She took the initiative to find out the hours of a pediatric hospital nearby. She knew it would be challenging to get an appointment on a weekday with no notice, and found out that if the couple wanted to see a doctor, they would have to wait in line. So, she went above the call of duty and woke up at 2:00 a.m. to obtain a number and a spot in line for the guests. She then waited in line at the hospital for more than six hours. The guests arrived and only had to wait 15 minutes to see the pediatrician. The parents broke down in tears, and were very touched by the babysitter’s efforts to treat them like family and the genuine care from the team. Upon departure, they noted that this was their first Ritz-Carlton experience, but definitely not their last.

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Customer service is one of the most talked about areas in the business world.  How one is treated on the phone when calling a company, or how one is treated when walking in a store, or how one is treated when walking through the checkout line can either guarantee a return customer or guarantee a bad reputation.  And, either way, the customer’s experience has a good chance of reaching other people’s ears.    Ritz Carlton’s service is known around the world as some of the best there is.  The company prides itself in going above and beyond to give guests the best possible experience they can.  The experience they look to create isn’t artificial.  It is very personal.  I’ve heard many Ritz Carlton ‘wow’ stories.  Some of these stories will bring tears to your eyes.  Some will have you wondering why they did it…because you know they lost money.  But to the Ritz Carlton staff, it’s not about money.  It’s about serving people…about noticing things that would normally go unnoticed in today’s culture.  It’s about seeing the actual need hidden in a quest’s request.

 

One story I recently read was about a Ritz Carlton employee who attended the same church as a local eighth grade teacher.  This teacher had shared a story about a female student in her class who had been recently diagnosed with a form of hard to treat cancer at the age of 13.  One of the girl’s big regrets is that she would not live to attend prom at her soon to be high school.  The Ritz Carlton employee’s heart and mind started working…remember, this girl isn’t even a guest.   The employee and her team jumped into action and secured the Ritz’s ballroom, formally invited some of the 13 year olds closest friends and family, had the seamstress from the Ritz make her a gown like no other, and provided a “Prince Charming.”  The IT guy from the hotel became the photographer and the lead visual person for the hotel became the DJ.  The chef provided choice foods for a 13 year old and friends.  And…this girl had the night of her life dancing all evening on legs that contained debilitating cancer.  The Ritz Carlton received nothing for this in return.  They simply served.  This girl’s family, after spending lots of time with this employee and her staff, considered them family…so much so that the seamstress who made the girl’s gown also handmade another gown that she was soon thereafter laid to rest in.

 

A lady came to Jesus one day (recorded in Matthew 26:6-13) while he was a guest in another person’s house.  She was so taken by her creator that she came to him and gently poured a very expensive oil/perfume on his head and hair.  Those present were “indignant.”  They demanded to know why she wasted this very expensive perfume.  With scowls on their faces they argued that the money could have been used to give to the poor.  Jesus responded with the question, “Why are you bothering this woman?”  He went on to simply say that she was serving her Lord.  Many of them sat there and probably struggle to understand what he meant.  They saw a woman who was not invited, who was sinful, and who was seemingly wasteful.  Jesus saw humility, bravery in approach, and openness to forgiveness that only he can give.  Jesus saw that she was willing to serve him.

 

The author John records that Jesus also took the servants role and washed his disciple’s feet (13:1-17).  In the latter part of this passage, Jesus says that we will do well to follow his example by washing one another’s feet as well.  In fact, Jesus goes on to say, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  Jesus gives us the example of serving…even taking on the lowly role of a foot washer.  It wasn’t about him.  His service was for others.  His very life was completely lived for other people…not himself.  He asks us to do the same.

 

How can service be your Christmas gift to Christ this year?  What things will you change in your life…your daily life…that will help you live more fully as a servant of the High Priest?  The Ritz Carlton employees train very hard to live out their servant qualities while on the job…and they are recognized around the planet for how they successfully accomplish their goal of caring and comforting their guests like no other in the travel industry.  How are we/you doing in this area?  How are you doing in this area with your family, your neighbors, your church family, your colleagues, your team mates?  Serving is about living life for other people.  Christ did not consider serving something that was just part of his life…like something special he did in his weekly schedule on Friday mornings at the local food pantry.  It was his life.  Is service to the King and those he died for just part of your life, or is it life to you?  Can this be your Christmas gift to Him this year?  You don’t even have to wait for New Years for this new resolution.  : – )  Put a smile on and start now.

 

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

 

Questions for growth:

  • In what ways have you been served?  What memorable ways?  Ways that go against what is normal in today’s society?
  • Do you remember serving in a way that you felt completely blessed?  What did you do?  Do you remember what prompted you?  Was it a gut feeling, a voice?  Was it natural or did you have to convince yourself?
  • If we’re honest about the last question, I believe that we will agree that the ‘blessing’ that Jesus talks about in John 13:17 is a feeling like no other.  Do you want more of that?  It’s a simple question with a simple answer.
  • How can you/we turn your/our hearts around to realize that being a servant isn’t just a chore or duty or job, it’s what we were created for?  Jesus was born to serve.  We were too.
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