Waiters: Order takers or images of God?
Have you ever treated your waiter as someone whose sole life purpose is to take your order?
Have you ever managed to not look at a barista in the eye during the entire process of ordering your drink because you’re focused on the menu behind them and your method of payment?
Me too, and me too.
I’ve also been on the receiving end of this and know how distinct it feels when someone treats you like their servant and when someone treats you like a human being, which—newsflash—is who we all are, uniformed or not.
What does it mean to be made in the image of God? What does it mean for how I treat others in the stores and in the restaurants? I think we need an overhaul in the way we treat the kind souls who serve us food and drink.
If you want to witness a man’s life whose actions lined up with his proclaimed beliefs, read Eric Metaxas’s Bonhoeffer. What we believe about God and humanity must be proven in the way we live the everyday. Otherwise, we’re just saying empty words. Don’t tell the world what it means to be a follower of Christ—show them.
Rikk Watts, theologian, aeronautical engineer, and teacher at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, once told a story about his personal journey to truly understand what it means to treat people as made in the image of God.
To preface the story, he admitted that he loves money, which will be important in a moment. There used to be a pizza place across the road from Regent that he started going to regularly. He started chatting with a particular waitress there and simply asking how her day’s been. He kept going back to this place and would tip a little extra each time, and then Christmas came. At this point they would always chat a little bit and she had kind of become “his” waitress.
When the bill came, Rikk felt like the Holy Spirit said to him, “Rikk what happened this time of year?” Rikk said, “Well, it’s your gift to the world.” And then Rikk felt him say, “OK, well why don’t you reflect that in your tip.” So Rikk gave her a 50% tip. “My hand nearly dropped off in pain!” Rikk said, speaking to his greed that this action was rubbing up against. He wrote on the check, “God bless you. Have a happy Christmas.”
A little while later, he came in again. They exchanged greetings, and then out of the blue, she said to Rikk, “You know, I’ve started to read my Bible.” Rikk explains how this hit him hard because he used to be the “Great White Apologetic Shark” who loved to destroy people’s worldview and show them that Jesus was the answer. But as he pointed out, it doesn’t really work out well to insult and knock down someone’s beliefs as ridiculous, leaving them like a dead pulp on the floor, and then ask if they’d like to follow Jesus.
But now, having just treated another person like he did, not even having talked about God stuff, she started warming up to God. Rikk said to her, “I always knew you were a wise woman, and sooner or later you’d tumble to the truth.” She started crying and so did Rikk.
Then he went on sabbatical, and came back four months later with a friend of his from England. The kitchen staff and everyone chatted with them as they walked in. Rikk’s waitress came over to their table, and turned to his friend (at this point in telling the story, Rikk starts to tear up). She said, “I don’t know how well you know this man, but we love him here. Every time he comes into this place he fills it with light.”
And here’s how Rikk finished: “You don’t know when you are the Jesus that God is sending into a relationship into a middle of a conversation he’s having with people, and you’re the one who steps into that conversation. And it’s not about being the hero, it’s not about trying to sell stuff. It’s not about trying to sell Jesus. It’s not about the sale. It’s about them.”
So there you go. A simple story of someone treating another as made in the image of God, and you never know where it could lead. In this case, it lead to the waitress encountering God. But who says they’re not encountering God when they’re interacting with you?