Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Staying on Mission

I have to be careful.  I have seen my friends and even mentors in the ministry try to make a point of something they have seen out in the world, only to be misunderstood in their efforts.  But I was so dumbfounded by what I saw the other day that I feel it is worth the risk. 
I was standing in line in the busy lobby of a local business.  The line was moving quickly, and there were a dozen of us waiting in line.  It was one of those moments when everyone in the place could hear every conversation spoken because of the close quarters.  Up ahead, the gentleman who was finishing his transaction asked to purchase one more item, worth less than a couple of quarters, and presented a $20 bill for tender. 
“No.”  The clerk told him no.  I was dumbfounded.  She tried to get him to use a smaller bill, but he did not have one.  He walked away, perfectly polite, never offering a word of protest.  But I did.  From my place in line, I asked her if that was even legal.  I remembered some old rule from Citizenship class specifically stating that U.S. currency must be accepted for the payment of debts (I later looked it up and it is The Coinage Act of 1965).  But beyond that, she went on to admit that she had the change, just not much left, and she was not about to give it all to him when he could go to a bank to get change and come back!  Again, I was dumbfounded. 
What added to my confusion and later dismay was that I was standing in a United States Post Office.  Most of us know the USPS is struggling to regain profitability, long since gone with the arrival of leaner competition and the advent of email.  Their own Vision 2013 statement, in an effort to turn things around, says their first priority is to “Focus on what matters most to customers.
What happens when a company or organization forgets its mission?  When it forgets its purpose?  I believe in the USPS, and have faith that their restructuring efforts will soon right the ship.  But the attitude that a customer wanting to buy a stamp is an inconvenience will not help them get that done.  Imagine if the church acted the same way?  None of us would be welcome, because the truth is all of us come wanting and needing.
May we never forget our mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!  Grace and Peace, Scott

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