Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Worthwhile

Have you ever noticed that, somehow, the food service industry has gotten a bad rap?

What was that thing dad always used to say?

"Study hard, if you don't apply yourself you'll end up flipping burgers for the rest of your life! You don't want that, do you??"

Whenever my friends and I would go into a fast food restaurant, there was always that token 50 year old, who had always worked at that particular establishment.

We'd all look on him (or her) with pity, because our dreams were so much larger. We aspired much loftier goals.

Maybe you know what I'm talking about, maybe you don't.

But we can choose, on a daily basis, if our experiences can be worthwhile or not.

For example:

I currently work in the food service industry. I work with great people. We work hard, sometimes extremely long hours. Sometimes it can be pretty stressful.

Something that I've noticed, though, is that I often come home with a deep sense of satisfaction at the end of a long day. If you've ever experienced this, you'll know that, despite accumulating sweat and grime throughout the day, and although it was tough, you made it through. You did something worthwhile.

When you find that feeling, then you can ultimately find contentment with life. It's really interesting how this works.

Why does that cold beer taste so much better at the end of a long, hard shift?
Why is a shower so much more rewarding than when you initially wake up in the morning?

It's because you've performed a service for someone, and serving one of the things that humans were made to do.

This, I'm finding, is amplified in the food service world. Most every food service establishment that I've worked at, has a definite "family" kind of dynamic. I think it's because we spend so much time together; we laugh, we fight, we make up.

It isn't unlike an actual family... 'cept when people start dating co-workers....but that's a whole different story.

Attitude is incredibly important.

If you enter your job expecting to be served (i.e. expecting to get cut early, or to stay for your whole shift, or something else that caters to your expectation of how the night should go), you are bound to leave feeling unfulfilled. I can't tell you how many times, in the past, I've heard co-workers grumbling or complaining because things didn't go their way.

When they do end up leaving, they leave with a deep sense of dissatisfaction.

On the other hand, if you go to your job (whatever it be) looking for ways to serve others, or to better integrate yourself into the team, you'd be surprised at how a night can change.

What I really strive to do, and often fail in, is to try to put the needs of others before my own.

Sure, it'd be easier to call out for something from the saute' station, but what if I'm not as busy as the saute' guy? What if I can make his night easier, by jumping on and helping him out?

What if that little extra bit of stocking, or cleaning done on a closing shift, will help pave the way for a smooth opening shift for someone?

Can you really change the mood dynamic of your place of employment, simply by serving others in ways both big and small?

I believe you can. I also believe that this is what God asks of those who consider themselves followers of Jesus. It's our privilege to serve others, not a chore.

This can be tough because, as a rule, we humans tend to want to serve ourselves first. But, over time, as we practice being a servant, we begin to find fulfillment.

I don't believe I'll work in food service for my entire life, but that doesn't mean that I can't strive diligently to try to give my best to my restaurant family. To work my very hardest, not just for a check, but because it's something that is honoring to God.

It doesn't mean that I shouldn't use every opportunity possible to try to make someone elses' day.

There's a saying that goes: "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities."

I fully believe that.

In addendum, I would also say that, in being faithful, one can also find their relationships, job, and life in general to be increasingly more worthwhile.

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