“All work is God’s work.” “Your work matters to God.” “You are priests in the public square.” “All church member’s are ministers.” “Vocation is integral, not incidental, to the mission of God.” These are assertive phrases one hears a lot around a church that understands that, no matter what your calling, your work is as important to the coming of the Kingdom of God in the world as any minister, missionary, priest, or pastor. And it is.
When one understands this, it can actually be a rather thrilling and memorable experience to encounter the Kingdom of God and the ministers of God in a place you might not expect it, like a car dealership. And that’s exactly what happened this past summer whenTara and I lived a bad dream of many parents. Four hours into a fifteen hour drive from Corhaven to Florida for a long vacation, with all four kids in the back of the minivan and said minivan stuffed to the gills with vacation stuff, it died. We were lucky (protected, actually) to get off the highway when when we did. After many phone calls to a lot of unavailable mechanics, we found ourselves in the strangest of churches.
We had such a profound experience of “business the way God meant it to be” that I had to write to Mitch Walters, the owner of the company, to thank him and give credit to the ministers, that is, the employees who helped us. The letter follows….
Dear Mitch, I’m writing to inform you of the excellent help provided by all the staff at Friendship CJD in Bristol, TN, and to thank you and also them.
On August 15, my wife and I with our four young children were early into our drive from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to the Gulf Coast in Florida for our family vacation. Passing through Bristol, our minivan started acting strangely on the highway, we pulled off at the first exit into the Valero gas station, and it died. After calls to three other garages, your dealership was the only one available to help us, and our van was towed there. I believe that was Providence.
It turns out our old Chrysler Town and Country (+200K miles) was clearly beyond repair and we were but miles from what could have been a catastrophic engine failure. For a number of reasons, we were absolutely painted into a corner with no way to rent another vehicle, drive our own, or even sell it for scrap.
I have to tell you that every member of your staff that we encountered were not only helpful, but went far above and beyond what they would have been expected to do. Every one of them was gracious, sacrificial, professional, efficient, honest, and clearly wanted to be as helpful as they could be. Every one.
Specifically, I’d like to draw your attention to the professional and compassionate service provided by Ken the mechanic, Roger in service, Andrew in service, Brian in sales, and Dominic in finance. And I know there were other teams of people working to help us that I did not meet in the shop, in detailing, and in finance among others. It was clear that even those who I did not personally meet were trying to help us in a very difficult situation.
We were absolutely up a creek without a paddle, and frankly vulnerable. Your dealership did not take advantage of us which it could have very easily done. Rather, we experienced help and I think even grace.
Out of necessity, we ended up trading in our old van and bought a used mini-van from your lot that Brian helped us find quickly, and that we’re very happy with. In the shop, we transferred all our belongs from our old van to the ‘new’ one, and seven and a half hours after our troubles began, we were on the road again in a safe vehicle that indeed got us all the way to Florida and back. Your showroom was as comfortable as a place as it could have been for our kids, whose presence didn’t seem to bother your other employees at all.
There are many facets to this story I could share and details about how each person I mentioned went beyond the call of duty, and would be happy to do that if that would be helpful.
St. Teresa of Avila said “Christ has no body on earth but yours…Yours are the hands through which he blesses the world”. In other words, the way God gets God’s work done in the world is through the hands of people. The hands of your staff were indeed God’s hands and help to us. In a moment of great need, God helped us through your people, and I hope they know that and will be encouraged that it was noticed, recognized, and appreciated.
If you could pass on a copy of this letter to the those I mentioned, I would be grateful.
And I would thank you for whatever you’ve done to engender this sort of work ethic at your dealership.
I would guess there’s a much greater bottom line for you as a businessman than money.
Sincerely and gratefully,
Rev. Bill Haley
No matter what your vocation or what you do for work, can you do it in such a way that when people encounter you, they’re actually encountering a pastor and tasting the goodness of the Kingdom of God and the way it works?