Most of the jobs I’ve had have been in retail, outside of a couple of jobs in a warehouse and sawmill. I don’t think there’s a working person who doesn’t know that it can be a stinky deal working with the public. The public can be difficult, nasty, and downright cruel at times. While I’m grateful to have a job, it does have its drawbacks. But something – the Holy Spirit probably – hit me last night with a character flaw: I don’t love the public. A heavy conviction for someone who’s been praying for God to teach me how to love Him the way I should. Jesus did say if you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me. (see Matthew 25:40)

I love my family. I love my friends. I get along fine with people who are nice to me. But what about the person who glares at me because the price of cigarettes went up? Or the person who gets mad because they went over the twenty dollars they paid for their gas but ignored me when I said that I couldn’t set it to shut off because they were already pumping? What about the person who takes twenty minutes trying to figure out which lottery tickets to buy and what the last drawing’s winning numbers were while the line builds up behind them? Do I love these people?

I have to be honest, I don’t act like it. I get frustrated. While I’ve never openly be rude to a customer, I’m pretty sure they’ve recognized my tight smiles for the fake smiles they were. And it hit me yesterday that that was unacceptable.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same… But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, even as your father is merciful.” -Luke 6:32-33, 35-36

Jesus makes it very clear how we should conduct ourselves with people who may or may not respect us. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep a real smile on my face while customers are being ungrateful and harsh, but I don’t have the right to return the same feeling toward them, even if I don’t voice it or they never know. God weighs the heart and He knows our intentions.

So my new resolution for work is to start trying to look at every customer and see them as God sees them. And if I truly want to love Him, that requires that I love others. For all I know, He might have placed me back at the gas station simply so I could learn that lesson.

I’ve also realized, though, that it isn’t a lesson simply learned once. It’s going to take a lot of prayer and practice.

Feel free to comment with your own experiences with the public. How do you handle rude customers or difficult situations with the public in general? I’m not above asking for advice.

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