The Many Faces
one to one: Lessons about life, ministry, and grandkids
by Keith Burden, Executive Secretary, National Association of Free Will Baptists
Thank You for Being Polite
I was attending a meeting in a state that shall remain nameless. I stayed in a hotel that provided complimentary parking, Internet service, and a continental breakfast. Before leaving for the morning session, I stopped by the dining room to grab a bite to eat.
As I surveyed the various food options, a friendly hotel worker greeted me. She had a warm smile and offered her assistance if needed. I thanked her, made my selection, and found my way to a table in the dining area.
I ate my breakfast as I scanned the headlines of the daily newspaper. Just then, my pleasant dining experience was interrupted as I heard the loud voice of an obviously unhappy hotel guest.
“Is this all I have to choose from?” she snapped angrily at the hotel employee. “You’re telling me you don’t have eggs and bacon?” She continued her tirade saying, “I paid good money to stay in this hotel. You would think you people could do a little better than this!”
By now, all eyes in the room were focused on the scene. We were wondering how the dining room worker would respond to the rude comments of this woman. To everyone’s surprise, she smiled and politely explained that the hotel offered different food items on different days during the week. It just so happened that this wasn’t a “bacon and eggs” day. She calmly apologized for the inconvenience, then turned and walked back into the kitchen.
Everyone ate in silence as the disgruntled patron continued to complain aloud about the food. Thankfully, she gobbled down her breakfast quickly and exited the dining room. Momentarily, the hotel worker emerged from the kitchen and resumed her duties.
Quietly, I got up from the table, retrieved some bills from my wallet, walked over to the employee, pressed the money into her hand and said, “Thank you for being polite.” She smiled and nodded as if to say, “Thanks for noticing.”
I was appalled by the attitude and actions of the unhappy woman. Imagine—complaining about a complimentary breakfast! I thought of a lot of things I wished the hotel employee had said to her. That’s when it came to me…those times when I complained about God’s blessings. In one sense, I was no better than the ungrateful woman. I felt convicted.
Fortunately, that experience wasn’t wasted on me. Not only did I learn something from that whiner, I was reminded of a truth from God’s Word: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
The response of the worker may have been lost on the grumbler, but it didn’t escape my attention or the attention of others in the dining room. In a day when gentility seems to be disappearing from society, may we as Christ-followers live out the admonition of Scripture, “Let your speech be always with grace” (Colossians 4:6a).
About the Column
One to One is a regular feature of ONE Magazine. Written by Keith Burden, executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the column explores life, ministry...and the joys of grandchildren.