This week, I was driving between meetings in Oregon. Just before checking into my hotel, I filled up my car in anticipation of a morning departure. Oregon is a state where you are not allowed to pump your own gas.
When I pulled into the station the attendant came to my window to get my credit card. He did not look happy. He carried a heavy presence of hopelessness. I greeted him and asked him to fill my tank. Normally, when someone fills my gas tank, I tip them as a point of blessing and connection. When the attendant returned to my open window with my receipt in hand, I handed him a tip and said, “Grab yourself something cool to drink.”
The attendant’s face went from heavy and hopeless to a childlike expression of joy. He looked like a kid on Christmas morning. Through his wide smile, he said, “Thank you!” He was truly amazed at the gesture. I thanked him for serving me and drove away to check into my hotel.
I wrote this to remind us how powerful our presence can be if we make the choice to deposit in each circumstance of life an encounter with kindness. Kindness shifts atmospheres.
I was having lunch with Graham Cooke and some pastor friends a couple of years ago. Graham told us a story about his calling to extravagant tipping in his hometown restaurant where he eats breakfast each morning. He wanted the tip he left behind to be such an unusual blessing that it literally changed the environment of the restaurant. He takes it a step farther. He actually sends the restaurant staff daily tips in the mail when he is on the road. He does this even when he is gone for weeks at a time.
There is nothing routine or normal about your life if you are a child of God. You carry God's presence wherever you travel during your day. Since you are heaven’s royalty walking on Earth, you are called to love and honor people in a royal way.
Do something unexpected the next time you are served by a waiter or a gas station attendant or by anyone in a serving capacity. By living this way, you will help someone know they are seen as a person of value and worthy of recognition for their service. If and when the time comes for you to talk about the things of God, it will all make sense because they were able to see a tangible expression of the extravagant love of God at work in your life.