In the early ’90s, the slogan for Burger King was “Your way right away.” They have since changed it to “Have it your way,” but the older version continues to stick in my mind.
The whole idea is intended to convince you of the flexibility and customization of their menu items based on your personal preference and desire. As an organization, they want you to know that they have evolved well beyond the quintessential “would you like fries with that” of most other fast food chains.
At BK, you can be just as creative and crazy as your imagination can manage and your stomach can handle. They have taken the idea of customer service to the farthest lengths they could. They will get you what you want the way you want it, and they will do it immediately and with urgency.
I worked at a Burger King for a very short period of time, about three months, and it was the worst job I ever had to endure. Don’t get me wrong, there were some positive points. A few bright spots that come to mind are the employee discount and being able to buy all of the kids meal toys before they hit the general market, but I hated the job.
The funny thing is it was probably the easiest work of any job I’ve ever had. What made it so terrible was the customers. They took the concept of “your way right away” very seriously. They expected that we, the employees, would do what they commanded and that we would do it right now with great joy and celebration.
The truth, however, was that there were actually limits on what we could do. Their expectations often exceeded our capabilities. Good luck explaining that to the ravenous masses of humanity who have come to believe that it is their God-given right to have it their way right away. The slogan had become gospel.
I’ve had several jobs since doing my time at BK, but I’ve found that the demand to have it “your way right away” extends well beyond that fast food kingdom. Truthfully, BK didn’t invent that concept. It just put words to the default mindset of our world today.
Our consumer-based culture has created an environment that has fostered and encouraged a very self-centered, self-serving focus. And while it is understandable when reasonably applied in proper settings, it has begun to permeate areas where it doesn’t belong. Faith would be one of those areas. The principles of Christianity run directly counter to the consumer mindset of our culture.
When we see ourselves as customers who are to be served, we reduce the world around us to commodities to be consumed and used for our benefit — Christ and other people included. We make a mistake when we think God should jump when we place an order. When our consumer-driven culture bleeds into the church, our faith becomes something it was never intended to be.
Through his life and death, Christ created a counter-culture that drives us to seek to serve others rather than to be served. He clearly set that example and expectation when he washed the feet of the disciples.
After taking the role as the servant in the room, though they should have been serving him, Jesus told the disciples they were to serve others as he had served them. Rather than living with an attitude of selfishness, we are called to demonstrate the heart of a servant.
While it is certainly true that Christ came to serve, not to be served, he didn’t come to give us what we want. He came and died to open avenues to provide us with what we need. Actually, it was his refusal to capitulate to the demands and desires of the culture of his day that led to his crucifixion. Jesus was great at caring for people. He wasn’t so great at customer service.
Caring for people is a key component of the Christian faith — at least it is supposed to be. By coming to serve rather than to be served, Jesus provided for us a model for us to imitate. We are called to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves. We need to reverse the expectation the culture has created. Christ has freed us from our selfishness that we might serve others for his glory and the good of the world.
The Rev. Dr. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected].