Less fire

Good morning Faculty and Staff,

When I first became a follower of Jesus Christ I was working as a waitress at a local bar and restaurant and my closest friend was the assistant manager. At the time, my decision to follow Jesus was made most visible by the marked difference in my social life and it was my coworkers at the bar and restaurant who did the most noticing. 

As a result, soon after my following began, during a lull between refilling water glasses and pacifying people with more bread, the assistant manager said to me, “Do you want to know what Christians are like?” And even though I didn’t know much about following Jesus at the time, I knew enough to listen to the world’s assessment to see if I could learn a thing or two. “Sure, tell me what Christians are like.”

“Christians are like my wait staff”, my friend continued. Not making the connection I responded, “How so?” And what followed was one of the most formative teachings I have ever been given about how to communicate my following to a world that just might listen if they know what the heck I was talking about.

“You know how all of my wait staff speaks English and how all of our kitchen staff speaks Spanish? Well when my wait staff gets a wrong order from the kitchen they march into the galley and slam down the plate and say, ‘I got the baked potato and I ordered mashed, the beans and I ordered rice and the steak is medium rare and I wanted rare.’ And my chef will say, ‘Lo siento, no hablo Inglés.’ And then even though my chef has just said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand,’ my wait staff will say the same thing just louder and faster.”

“Do you want to know how I solve the problem? I calmly pick up the plate and go around the counter to join my chef in his world. And then because my cooks are always really busy I help out a bit by removing the baked potato and replacing it with the mashed, scraping off the beans and adding a scoop of rice and then I simply say to my chef, ‘Less fire,’ which is part of a communication strategy we have developed in order to work well together. Christians are like my wait staff. They keep saying the same thing louder and faster even when no one understands what they are trying to communicate. You need to learn how to come around the counter and say it in a different way.”

It was at that moment that I learned that communication is not about me feeling good about what I am saying, but rather about whether or not the world understands what I am trying to communicate. And so as we continue to try to communicate our following to a world that just might listen if they know what they heck we are talking about, perhaps today we should make a commitment both to coming around the counter and to learning how to communicate in the language of those who are wanting to join us in the conversation. 

And while you are considering how to translate your faith in Jesus into a language that will make sense to those around you, we invite you to join us for Chapel as we hear testimonies spoken in several different ways. The North Park University Gospel Choir will bear witness through song, several students will offer their testimonies through spoken word and dance, and we will all be given a chance to answer the question, “I follow Jesus because…” Join us as we learn how to  “say it in a different way.”

Pastor Judy