I hate being late. I am one of those people that is usually at least fifteen minutes early because I hate being late. I get a little irritated if I get out the door late or if I have to run an errand before going to work or anything like that. So yesterday, when I was already running late and had to fill up my truck, I was already frustrated.
But more than I hate running late, I love to be able to stop at my coffee spot. So while I was pumping gas, I decided that I would run over and grab a quick cup of coffee before heading over to the school. I pull up at Kroger Starbucks and there are cars everywhere. This is going to take a minute. I don't really have time for this.
I go inside. Four people in line. I am already behind. I really don't have time for this. I get in line anyway. “Maybe they will be fast,” I am thinking to myself. I am behind a very sharp-dressed man in line. He doesn’t appear to be heading to an elementary school for summer leadership camp. I am sure where he is going is way more important than that...at least in his mind.
He looks back at me. He is next in line at this point. He says, “How are you this morning?” I smile and reply, “I am good. Thanks for asking. Yourself?” We exchange a few words for a moment.
I like talking to random people. It creates trust. Every interaction we have with someone builds or destroys trust. My wife taught me that. Smart woman. When people trust you, they minimize your flaws and forgive your mistakes. When people don’t trust you, they maximize your flaws and remember your mistakes. Pretty simple concept. I know I have flaws. I know I am going to make mistakes. So I put a smile on, greet people, show them compassion and grace, and make sure they know I care about them. It builds trust.
My new friend gets up to the counter. He orders his coffee, turns to me, invites me forward and offers to pay for mine. All that panicking in my mind about being late and God blesses me from a total stranger. I thank him, introduce myself, and ask his name and what he does for a living. The lady behind the counter replies, “Now, tell him what you do,” as if to say, “Nobody wants to do what you do.” I laugh, then proceed to tell him I work as an administrator at an elementary school.
His wife is best friends with one of our teachers. She is a teacher too. She used to work with my boss. He begins putting together all these connections for me. Really cool moment. She hands us our coffee. I let him know how much I appreciate him picking that up for me. We talk for about ten more minutes. He closes, “I appreciate what you guys do. Y’all deserve more than you get. Enjoy the coffee and have a great day.”
I ended up being late this morning. Later than I like. But it was all good. The world didn’t end. I got a little shot of encouragement, a blessing from God. I would have missed it, if I hadn’t been willing to slow down a minute. There is no telling what all God has for me that I miss from day to day. I pray for the ability to be more alert, more present where I am, and to be the giver of moments like the one I received yesterday. There’s people out there that need it.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35