My dad has been a pastor for my entire life, and as a result, the lifestyle of a pastor has been etched into my DNA. For a long time, I’ve been convinced that my destiny was to pastor people, and yet I have never had a job as a “pastor”. It has often been difficult operating through life when I sometimes feel that I am missing my destiny by not vocationally working as a pastor.
So when I took my most recent job as a manager at a local coffee shop, I made a decision that I was going to minister to all people in the coffee industry.
Little did I know that my pastor’s heart would flourish in the midst of this modest coffee shop. Here are a few lessons I have learned as a barista with a pastor’s heart in a missionary role.
Listen to others’ stories.
I have been given the unique privilege of developing relationships with “regulars” over a significant amount of time. One of the most valuable pieces to these relationships are the stories I get to hear. Our regulars have confided in me about sickness, divorce, custody, addiction, and other major life issues. More often than not, these people don’t know what I believe or what my intentions are, yet they open their lives to me as though I am their pastor.
One of my mentors says that “Consistency breeds Credibility”. If I was not consistently around the regulars in my shop, I am quite convinced that most would not have allowed me to enter into the most sensitive chapters of their stories. Whenever these chapters are opened they are begging for the gospel.
We must be aware of opportunities to be consistent in the lives of those around us, thus earning us the credibility to speak life into their lives at the right moment.
Engaging those with differences.
My place of work attracts myriads of people, that believe myriads of different things, and act in myriads of different ways. Many of these beliefs and patterns oppose the life I am committed to living as a Christ follower. In the past, I was cautious of people who were clearly opposed to the way I chose to live my life. Recently, I was reminded of they way Jesus interacted with people like Zacheus and Matthew. Both of these guys ran in crowds that were opposite of who Jesus was, and yet He chose to enjoy meals with them and their friends. Jesus was aware of their lifestyles and by no means did He hold it against them.
My wife and I have worked incredibly hard to have a similar attitude as Jesus when it comes to people like this. This has meant numerous meals and games of Settlers Of Catan in our house with homosexual couples, atheists, and friends running away from Jesus. At first it was difficult to engage with those who were so clearly different, but with time our fear of those who are different is nearly extinct.
We can’t be fearful of those who we think oppose us. We must engage them with love, grace, and consistency then the gospel will start to move them.
Just recently, one of my coworkers told me that if the Christians in her community as a child acted like the Christians around me, she would still be walking close to Jesus. What was interesting about this comment is that she has never been to anything my church or my friends have done. She has simply worked shifts pouring lattes with me and seen me interact with Christian friends. Apparently, the way my Christian friends and I treat one another, and treat her, has spoken volumes to her about the Church and about Jesus. It is everyday life in a coffee shop, not a sermon, that spoke to her about who Jesus is.
Published May 14, 2015