I was waiting recently to check out at a large grocery store in Lexington, Ky. The lines were long, and people were impatient. As I waited, I decided to switch to a self-checkout line. The store had added markers to the floor to indicate the distance they wanted shoppers to maintain from one another and I was standing on one of the adhesive markers.
I was unconcerned about the wait and in no hurry. The area around me was empty. As I waited, a store employee walked up to me and very sternly told me to move forward. She said (very sternly) that I was blocking the passage and should allow room for anyone who might come that way.
I was standing on the marker the store had designated and mentally questioned the (very stern) request. When I hesitated the woman employee again told me to move forward immediately. For a moment I felt annoyed and wanted to (just as sternly) resist the woman’s demand. I almost spoke when I noticed something. The young woman was not stern, she was scared. I realized that she was probably following instructions she had received to keep the aisles clear and was only trying to “do her job.”
I then decided to encourage and help the woman rather than criticize and rebuke her. I told her that I greatly appreciated her commitment to help customers navigate the store. I commended her concern for people and thanked her for her availability to help people.
The young woman was instantly transformed. She stood straighter, smiled, and thanked me. Then she asked if I thought she was really helping people with her directions and I asked her, “why else would you do it?” She looked thoughtful and thanked me again.
She then took me to a checkout station and offered to help me scan my items (this, remember, was as a SELF CHECKOUT). I thanked her, told her I did not need help and she left. As I submitted my items, I watched her return to the line that had gathered at the entrance. She warmly greeted each person and courteously offered to guide their progress. When she encountered someone who was blocking the aisle, she politely explained the need to move forward. She smiled at everyone.
I could have responded to her original approach with indignity and hostility. Instead, I believe that God led me to see her as who she could be. God used my words to create a “BELIEF EXPLOSION” in her heart. She chose to become the person I chose to see.
What can you do to change someone’s self-image into something wonderful and good? How can you ignite “belief explosions” everywhere you go?
The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11,
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.