Right This Way Please

WalmartIf you know anything about my wife, you know that every time we drive by a Wal-Mart, she places her hand over her heart! Well, maybe not EVERY time but seriously, Wal-Mart holds a special place in our heart. Why Wal-Mart? I’ll get to that in a moment.

Growing up in Northwest Montana, we were not privileged to have a Wal-Mart in our town. In fact, Wal-Mart did not have a presence in Montana until 1992. By then, I was in my sophomore year of college. No, we had the utmost “privilege” of shopping at the only other “mart” that was in town. Yes – we suffered by shopping at Kmart. I guess I should say my mother suffered while shopping at Kmart. I do not have fond memories of Kmart for several reasons. First, every Kmart I have ever been in has something like 37 registers with only three of them open for service. Usually, one stands about seven deep in line just dreaming about another one of the multiple registers being open for service! Second, I do not believe the words “customer service” and “Kmart” were ever found in the same sentence (until now). I have never had the privilege of actually finding a Kmart associate to help me in the department that I am aimlessly wandering in the unfruitful search for an item. One must traverse their way halfway across the store to hopefully spy a Kmart associate. However, this is not the worst of it. When you do find one and ask for the item you are looking for, the conversation goes something like this:

“Excuse me, sir.”

“Yes, how may I help you?”

“I was wondering if you could tell me where I can find where you have clocks for sale?”

“Sure. Go down seven aisles and hang a right (as he points in the general direction). When you come to the end of that aisle, hang a left. You will then find yourself in the ‘Time’ section. If you are not careful you will miss it as it is only consists of one shelf and is near the floor.”

The associate then continues working on whatever he was working on while I walk away trying to remember his instructions. It was often very challenging trying to follow his words to me that consisted of multiple instructions.

Fast forward to Wal-Mart…one of my first experiences at Wal-Mart I remember asking an associate (who can actually be found in each department of the store) for assistance in locating an item. The conversation went something like this:

“Excuse me, sir.”

“Yes, how may I help you?”

“I was wondering if you could tell me where I can find where you have clocks for sale?”

“Sure, right this way please.”

And I was escorted by a pleasant associate right to the location of which I inquired. Following the associate to the correct location saved me time and frustration. Wow! How easy was that!

Recently, I was reading the excellent mini-book, How to Wow Your Church Guests by Mark Waltz. One of the tips he gave in the book arrested my attention. He stated that it is imperative for members to Escort, Not Point when it comes to giving directions to guests in your church. The premise was one that Wal-Mart has taught to all of their associates:  Take someone with you to their desired location, don’t point the way!

What great advice for anyone that leads others whether it be a parent, teacher, Sunday school teacher, or a pastor! All too often, we give words that consist of multiple instructions and our followers find it very challenging to get to their destination. Here are some ways to take others WITH you to their destination:

  • Instead of instructing others to read the Bible, why don’t we give them a plan and help them along?
  • Instead of teaching that other couples should go on regular dates, why not invite another couple along for a double date with you and your wife so that they can see how fun a date can be?
  • Instead of instructing others to give during the Sunday school hour, why not lead the way by giving first to the offering?
  • Instead of barking orders to your children on how things should be done, why not instruct them AND show them what you expect of them first?
  • Instead of expecting new converts to just show up to all of the services at your church, why not enter into their world and show them you care about their day-to-day lives? That they are not just another “notch” or “number” for you when it comes to the ministry.

Oh, that we would learn this simple principle from Wal-Mart! That the best way to help someone along the path of life is to walk along beside them and escort them to their destination instead of pointing the way. Here’s the kicker – the “pointers” are telling the truth when they give the directions to those needing help. All of us have had people TELL us how to do something. But the ones who have SHOWED us how to do something and led us to those things made the biggest impact on our lives.

So, teachers, parents, pastors, and fellow leaders – let’s quit “pointing” people to the Truth and start “taking” people to the Truth! Right this way please!

Josh Miller

2 thoughts on “Right This Way Please”

  1. Appreciate your insights. Many of your comments regarding showing others how to do it remind me of one of our local body’s mottos: Ministry runs on the rails of relationships. I strongly believe that many of your comments are on point with a biblical philosophy of discipleship. Discipleship is the sharing of life and calls us to come along side our brothers and sisters in Christ as we promote Hebrews 10:24-25 in our lives. Discipleship I believe is the missing key

    1. Todd – I love that motto you mentioned: Ministry runs on the rails of relationships. I think I will acquire that and steal it for future use! Thank you for your encouragement in the vital need of discipleship in our churches. “Discipleship is the sharing of life” – I love that.

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