Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Espresso Tales

Philippians 2:3-5
“Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]”
“Love your neighbor as yourself” takes on a new meaning as I brew coffee, drop espresso shots, and steam milk at Starbucks. After having worked at Starbucks for almost four years, I have learned countless lessons about life, love, relationships, conflict management, the affects of caffeine addiction, and what a true servant looks like. We are told not to act selfishly or out of our own ambition, but in humility and love towards others. At Starbucks, partners are trained according to several powerful principles. We are to create an uplifting work environment for our fellow partners. We are also to meet, greet, and care for the customers who walk in our store. Those who walk into Starbucks come primarily for the coffee, but secondarily, they come for encouraging and uplifting interactions with the baristas behind the counter. When I step into the doors of my store sporting my stylish green apron, I choose an attitude of joy, service, compassion, and selflessness. Anything else is “anti-Starbucks.” As a carnal individual, who sometimes succumbs to my flesh nature, I expect to be well-treated, well-liked, catered to, and esteemed. My flesh nature, wants to be right all of the time. It hates correction, embarrassment, and humility. I must choose to crucify self, however, when I walk into Starbucks. I must take on the lowliness of mind and the humility that Paul speaks of in Philippians. When a customer yells or cusses or speaks down to me, I am to take it with humility, compassion, and generosity. When I know that a customer has ordered at double tall latte, and he insists that he ordered a triple, it is not my responsibility to insist that the word “double” came out of his mouth. My responsibility is to graciously recognize that surely he meant a triple and provide him with a smile and his third shot. When a customer comes through the drive through day after day with a look that could cause even the jolly green giant to wilt, my mission is to so consistently respond with a smile and words of encouragement, that she will eventually melt into a puddle of warm happy mush. It may take several months or years, but I am willing to keep on smiling for her sake. Maybe the combination of caffeine and joy waves will warm her heart, so she can at least curve a little corner of her mouth upwards. Starbucks baristas are not to snap back at snappy customers (If you have seen this done, on behalf of all Starbucks baristas, I sincerely apologize). We choose to smile at 5 AM when we open our doors, though we try to tone down our cheerfulness at least until 8 AM for our own personal protection. We are trained to create memorable, positive interactions with our customers every single time that they walk in the store. Granted, it does not happen every time, but that is our goal. Starbucks trains servants.
In light of these “Starbucks standards,” where does a barista learn to be a servant? Who does she model? How does she set “self” aside and place the welfare of her customers as top priority? How does she not take offense to the most offensive caffeine addicts? How does she turn the other cheek when both cheeks have already been slapped? How does she follow the command, “each of you should look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others”? She absolutely has to look to Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says this: “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.” On my own, I am wholly insufficient to live a life of selfless humility and joy. I can only live the lifestyle required at Starbucks through the power of the Spirit. My responsibility is to continuously choose to behold the countenance of my Lord, and He promises to empower me to live as He lived on earth through His Spirit in my life. Praise the Lord for equipping us to do the impossible, to love the unlovable, and to serve the most indolent, hateful people we could ever come in contact with. He loved murderers from the cross on which they killed Him. I can absolutely serve delicious beverages with a smile to mostly nice, occasionally grumpy coffee-lovers.

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