Wineskins Archive

February 11, 2014

Department or Attitude? (Jul-Aug 2002)

Filed under: — @ 1:45 pm and

By Rubel Shelly
July-August 2003

I need to make a confession: We have one of those horrible automated voice mail systems at my office. But it operates only when the office is closed or all lines are busy. I prefer to deal with people over voice recorders and presume that anybody trying to reach the people where I work feel the same way.

Have you ever journeyed into phone hell? What a silly question! Of course you have. “If you are calling about x, press 1; if you are calling about y, press 2; and on and on and on.” Some systems are easier and quicker to negotiate than others. But I still prefer people. And I’ll typically try to bypass the numbered options in hopes of being connected to a “customer-service representative” rather than wade through the tree of options in order to leave a message.

There was once a time — believe it or not — when companies actually had warm-blooded people on their payroll whose job it was to help customers. Now it’s more likely that customer service is a department staffed by recorders rather than a person who will invest time listening and responding to your needs.

It even happens at church. Did you hear the one about the fellow who walked into First Suburban Church wearing an expensive suit and a baseball cap? After he sat down, an usher walked up discretely, introduced himself, and said, “Pardon me, but we don’t wear hats in the sanctuary.” The well-dressed man nodded — and left the cap in place. A few minutes later, a deacon repeated the process — with the same outcome. Then, just before the service began, the pastor came, smiled, and shook his hand. “Sir, we are pleased to have you with us,” he said. “But we respectfully ask that you remove your cap during worship.”

“Of course!” he replied and took it off. “It’s just that I have attended this church for three and a half years and haven’t met a soul. Today I wore a dirty baseball cap and met the head usher, a deacon, and now the pastor.” I hope that story is pure fiction. My fear is that it is not.

If you value human contact and personal service, then take note of and appreciate it when you receive it. Don’t treat someone who serves you well with indifference or arrogance. Thank the person. Tell the manager. If proper, tipe in an organization, family, company, or church is responsible for treating others with respect.

Leaders teach quality service not by slogan or edict but by example.

Rubel Shelly is preaching minister for the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ. For back issues and other resources please vist

— The FAX of Life is a free weekly service from Rubel Shelly and the Family of God at Woodmont Hills. Since you are receiving this “FAX” via e-mail you have either requested to be added to the mailing list or someone has requested you receive it. To add a name for e-mail receipt or to have your name removed please send their/your e-mail address to Bonnie at the e-mail address —-

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