John was on the lookout for a new hangout, a casual cafe close enough to his new job that it would allow him a leisurely and peaceful lunch hour. As he strolled down a crowded sidewalk, he bumped into a sandwich board that advertised a cafe that promised nutritious, delicious, and tantalizing food at a reasonable cost. After brushing his pant cuffs off, John strolled into the stylish restaurant and nodded in silent approval; the wait staff discretely directed him to a corner table and presented him with an awe-inspiring menu. Ice-cold water appeared at his side before he could open the menu. Again, John nodded inwardly in approval.
Cracking open the menu, he scanned down the pages. John’s eyes lit up at the grilled chicken Asian salad offering. A perfect choice! He had enjoyed a substantial breakfast, and a light salad wouldn’t interfere with a dinner meeting with his new boss later that evening. Selection chosen, he set the menu aside just as his impeccably dressed server approached.
The waiter introduced himself in a friendly, respectful, and helpful tone. “My name is Christian, and I’ll be your server today. I see you have your water, and I can imagine you are hungry; why else would you be here?” Noting his patron’s glass of water, he asked, more to himself than to John, “Oh, perhaps lemon in that water? Allow me!”
Before John had an opportunity to decline, his server whisked the glass away only to reappear with a quarter of a lemon firmly wedged on the side of the glass. John eyed that wedge with disdain. He hated that fruit ever since the dare he won in a fifth-grade bet to see who could eat the most sliced lemons.
“Allow me to help you with that!” After Christian squeezed the lemon’s juice using a pair of tongs, John sighed and pushed the water aside. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from one lonely lemon pit’s lackadaisical path to the bottom of the glass as Christian spoke. “I couldn’t help but notice that you have a nice pair of cowboy boots there. They look broken in but still in good shape. I take it you are from Texas?”
“Ah yes, I mean no, I just moved here from Thailand. I lived in Asia for 20 years and loved the land, the culture, and the food. Speaking of food, I’d like the….” He paused, startled by Christian’s hand gesture for him to stop speaking. “But!” He protested.
“Say no more, let me guess. I pride myself on being a good reader of people. So let’s see.” The waiter paused for dramatic effect. Unfortunately, the pause was not long enough to allow John a chance to speak. “A Texan like you must be craving a nice juicy steak. Would you like that ..” Christian laughed. “Oh, I don’t even need to ask. Rare, more than likely.” As the waiter scribbled on his pad, John tried to get his attention.
“Actually, I’d much rather have a….”
“Oh, a steak sandwich?” Smiling, courteous Christian nodded. “Excellent choice. With a nice, big, baked potato on the side? No, wait, I think you need the twice stuffed potato instead, with plenty of sour cream and melted cheese. Allow me to suggest a craft beer to go with that steak.”
Lactose-intolerant John shuddered at what all that dairy would do to his digestive tract and tried to interject. However, Christian had become distracted by a waving hand at another table and wandered away. John headed out the door with one last disdainful look at the lemon-infused water glass. There had to be better service elsewhere.
If we are to be effective in our service to others, we must be willing to dismantle communication barriers caused by the lack of listening. We will never know another person’s needs unless we listen without presumption, speculation or assumption.
“The first service one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. …Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God, either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God, too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end, there will be nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words… never really speaking to others.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“What we allow into our mind and how we interpret what we listen to is what propels our thought and actions” Author Uknown
Until next week,
©2016, 2022 Katherine Walden