In your relationships with one another,

have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  

rather, hemade himself nothing by taking

 the very nature of a servant.

—Phillipians 2:5-7

You probably don’t know this about me, but I’m a booth freak. And worse yet, a booth freak with a temper, compounded by a booth freak with a temper whose KEY trigger in life is discourtesy.

Not a good combination for a peaceful family dinner out.

I cannot count how many times I have butted heads with hostesses, waitresses, maitre d’s, you name it, due to snotty attitudes, condescending looks or just downright rudeness on the part of the service industry. Let me repeat that—I said “service” industry. What can I say—it’s my #1 trigger in life, especially in a restaurant. And don’t even get me started if a booth is involved.

Case in point:  Once on vacation, we went to a lovely restaurant in Florida on New Year’s Eve right as they opened the doors at 5:00 PM. We were not only the first people to arrive, but the ONLY people in the restaurant for the next 20 minutes. The hostess, all of sixteen years of age, it appeared, never broke a smile, but simply nodded and pulled the appropriate number of menus from her rack. Shoulders squared, she then proceeded to walk to the very middle of this very spacious room with booths on two walls and tables and chairs in the middle, to seat us at the very middle table.

I know it’s crazy, but I have this pet peeve in a restaurant that I do not like anybody walking behind me. Blame it on the fact I was #12 out of 13 kids and probably got thumped on the back on a regular basis at the dinner table by siblings walking by, or maybe I’m overly skittish because my sisters would lie in wait at the top of the stairs to jump out and scare me behind my back all the time. Whatever the reason, I just flat-out get a chill at the notion of people scooting or walking behind me while I’m eating. Which probably helps explain my obsession with booths because usually booths butt up against each other so your back is not exposed.

So anyway, this child hostess waves her hand at this very lovely table in the middle of the room and already I can see the fear on my family’s faces as my eyes scan the twenty-something (God’s truth!) empty booths with windows overlooking the parking lot.  “Excuse me,” I say in my kindest tone with my most humble smile, “but would it be okay if we sat at a booth instead?” I ask, waving my hand at the sumptuous array of paisley stuffed booths. “I’m sorry,” the reply came in a cool tone, “but those are reserved.” I blinked. “Reserved?” I say, wondering if anybody on the planet other than me EVER made a reservation that specifically requested a booth, much less twenty of them on a given night in an empty restaurant. “But there’s nobody there now,” I say sweetly, “and it’s only 5:05 PM, so are you sure we can’t be seated there? I have this thing about booths, you see.”

No, apparently she did not because she continued to argue with me and I with her until my family were hiding under the linen-clad table. Well, we ate at that very table that night and yes, you guessed it—my meal was ruined. But … not because of the table, the food or the service. Nope. It was because I’d lost my temper, ruined my family’s dinner and mine and acted less like a Christian than the rude hostess with the twenty earrings in each ear. Because you see, at least I knew I was supposed to serve others … this poor thing apparently didn’t.

Rather, He made Himself nothing by taking

 the very nature of a servant.

Oh, the tales I could tell—of tussles in Wal-Marts, of roadside frays and shouting matches in dining establishments, undeniable proof that I am not the servant of God I like to think I am. Because in order to serve Him, I am called to serve others—every minute of every day, whether in a good mood or bad, in a just situation or unjust … in a booth or at a table.

So today, I would like to offer my deepest apologies to every single waitress, hostess, restaurant manager, Wal-mart greeter and checker on the planet—forgive me for the angst I caused you. Forgive me for not being the Christian God has called me to be. Forgive me for not following the example of Jesus in being the customer, the consumer, the patron that He wants me to be.

Because the truth is the customer is not always right, at least not if he or she serves a God who laid down His life to serve others.

I wish you and yours a wonderful weekend … and let’s make it even better by serving someone today with our hearts as well as our hands.