Earlier this week, I had to travel to Peterborough for a meeting of our “Branch” there – a great group of people dedicated to promoting the Bible cause in that area. As is common for me – I drive quite a lot in my work – I stopped for gas on the way there. As sometimes happens (those who know me well would say often happens) when I stop for fuel, I availed myself of The Facilities. In the midst of that common event, though, something rather uncommon happened. (Read on. I promise this isn’t toilet humour.)
I entered the sole restroom at this gas station, and found it immaculate. Neat. Tidy. Spic-and-span. Virtually eat-off-the-floor clean. It was so well kept, I almost felt guilty for using it. I made sure I was very careful – as careful as I would be in using the bathroom as a guest in someone’s home.
Normally, when I use the restroom at a gas station, I do my business and scoot. No need for conversation; I’ve got a journey ahead of me, after all. However, on that day, I felt the need to stop, upon exiting the restroom, to commend the staff for their work.
There was a woman stocking shelves whose uniform betrayed that she worked there. I just said, on my way by, “You have the cleanest washroom of any gas station I’ve ever visited. Thanks!”
She seemed a little taken aback, but then smiled and said, “Oh! Thank you!” Obviously, she doesn’t here that kind of comment very often. I carried on with my trip, but made a mental note to stop there again. I even wrote on my gas receipt, “Cleanest washroom EVER!”
This got me wondering: how often do we recognize something positively unusual, even superlative, and then actually commend those responsible?
If a message we’ve heard in church particularly affected us, how often do we speak to the pastor, or send an email, that says more than, “Nice sermon, Pastor” (“If I had a nickel for every one of those…”, all you clergy are thinking to yourselves)? How often do we tell the pastor how the message impacted us?
If a loved one made a meal that we found especially scrumptious, how often do we say so? If we are the recipient of a helpful word at just the right time, how often do we thank the person who offered us that word?
You get the idea. We feel better for having recognized the ways we’ve been blessed, and those whom we recognize are encouraged to do it again. (As a preacher, I always say that good listeners make the preacher better; I think that’s true of us all. I suspect that the restroom at that gas station will have been cleaned well once again because of my quick comment.)
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15.1, NLT).
Here’s a bonus: sharing that positive, encouraging word will also help your witness for Jesus. When someone receives an edifying comment, she or he pays attention to where it came from. And God is blessed by it, too.
(By the way, if you’re curious where that gas station is, it’s the Shell station on Waverley Road, north of the 401, in Bowmanville, Ontario.)