As a teenager I was (and still am to a degree) too quick to open my mouth. Sometimes that hurt me, but at other times such brashness paid off. The following true story is a time when . . . well, I think you will understand.
A restaurant manager hired me in the spring of 1983 to keep the grass cut and weeds pulled around two restaurants in town. After two months, he scheduled me to bus tables on Mother’s Day – the busiest Sunday of the year for many restaurants. When he showed me the schedule, I noticed that I was to clock-in at 11:00 AM. That was when worship began at Leonard Street Church of Christ. My brashness kicked in, “That is during worship, I can’t come then.”
“Do you want the job?” he asked.
“Yes, but can I come in later or work the afternoon / evening? I don’t want to miss worship. God comes first.” I said as a very stubborn and brave 16 year old.
The manager took on an authoritative tone, “I am a leader at Brownsville Assembly of God, I have to miss church to be here. I don’t like it, but I have to.”
“I want the job and will come to work, but I will be about 30 minutes late. I want to attend Bible Classes and take Communion.” I said, still trying to be brave.
He was understanding but informed me that he expected me to be there on time and if I worked double hard, he would try to work with me. I did show up on time my first day but informed him that I wanted to clock-out early so I could make it to evening assembly. I learned to bus tables, wash dishes, clean bathrooms, and wash out garbage cans by the end of my first day. I worked hard and arrived at evening worship tired and mostly clean.
When I came to the restaurant on Monday, the manager showed me the schedule. He had adjusted my schedule 30 minutes the following and every Sunday I worked after that. I was able to find a congregation to attend (the Sunday’s I worked) that had a earlier service so that I did not have to rush out before the sermon.
I shared that background to lead you to a day about three months later. It was a weekday evening and the restaurant was not overly busy. I was stacking dishes that I removed from the washer, when the manager asked me to step into his office. When I walked in he closed the door and said, “Scott, I know you have a close relationship with God. I have a family member whose marriage is falling apart . . .” he paused to wipe a tear, “Will you pray with me for my family?”
Here I was at 16 years old, praying with a man in his early thirties. All I could think of at the time is what I still think about now when I reflect on the whole picture. By living what I professed to believe, I had a small influence on the life of someone else. By the way, I worked at this restaurant for this manager until I left for college in the fall of 1985. I moved up from busboy to plating, then fry cook, then steak cook, and even worked in the butcher shop as an apprentice.
Dear Father, may I always be a living example to those around me in word and in deed. In Jesus’ name.