Growing up, my family would have contests to see who would be the first one to find a stranger at church and become their friend. I can remember having addicts and runaway youth stay the night at our house. We read the Bible a lot and always prayed as a family before making any big decisions. My dad has been a pastor for my entire life and as a result, the lifestyle of a pastor has been etched into my DNA. For a long time now, I've been convinced that my destiny was to pastor people, and yet I have never had a job as a “Pastor”.
It has often been difficult operating through life when I sometimes feel that I am missing my destiny by not vocationally working as a pastor. So when I took my most recent job at a local coffee shop, I made a decision that I was going to minister to all people in the coffee industry. Little did I know that my pastor's heart would flourish in the midst of this modest coffee shop. Below are three small lessons I have learned as a barista with a pastor's heart.
In my shop, I have been given the unique privilege of developing relationships with regulars over a significant amount of time. One of the most valuable pieces to these relationships are the stories I get to hear. I've discussed sickness, divorce, custody, addiction, among other things with regulars. More often than not, these people don't know what I believe or what my intentions are and yet they open their lives to me as though I am their pastor. One of my mentors Alan says that “Consistency breeds Credibility”. If I was not consistently around the regulars in my shop, I am quite convinced that most would not have allowed me to enter into the most sensitive chapters of their story. Whenever these chapters are opened they are begging for the gospel. We most be aware of opportunities to be consistent in the lives of those around us, thus gaining us credibility to at some point speak life into their lives.
My place of work attracts myriads of people, that believe myriads of different things, and act myriads of different ways. Many of these ways oppose the life I am committed to living as a Christ follower. There have been times in my life where I have been cautious of people who are clearly opposed the way I chose to live my life. Recently, I was reminded of they way Jesus interacted with people like Zacheus and Matthew. Both of these guys ran in crowds that were opposite of who Jesus was, and yet he had meals with these people and their friends. Jesus was aware of their different lifestyles and by no means did he hold it against them. My wife and I have worked incredibly hard to have a similar attitude as Jesus when it comes to people like this. This has meant numerous meals and games of Settlers Of Catan in our house with homosexual couples, atheists, and former Christians. We can't be fearful of those who we think opposite of us. We must engage them with love, grace, and consistency. These are the things that will open the doors for the masses to feel the love of Jesus.
Just recently one of my coworkers told me that if the Christians in her community as a child acted like my community, she would most likely still be a Christian. What was interesting about this comment is that she had never been to anything my church or community has done. She as simply worked the same shifts as me and seen my community interact with one another. What this tells me is that the way my Christian friends and I treat one another and they way they treated her spoke volumes to her perspective of the church and ultimately her perspective of Jesus. It was the everyday life in a coffee shop lifestyle that spoke to this woman about who Jesus is.