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This will be my first reflection over multiple mugs of tea at a quaint Starbucks store in Glasgow, as I peck the mechanical keys on my tiny Lenovo business laptop running Windows 10 Professional.

Who would expect that I would need to write some context? Well, partly because writing a blog reflection is a bit different to writing a book or a column for a newspaper, neither of which I have fulfilled in achieving in my lifetime to date.

When I approach a blog reflection, for the most part, I strive to be Christ-centred in my reflection. There have been multiple writings that I need to reflect on for several weeks (some reflections even stretch to a good few months), mainly because I am afraid to open up. I’m not fussed with readership because I am not syndicated or sponsored in anyway, but I do value worthy material where I want to honour God.

If I find myself ranting heavily or coming across attacking in a heated way, I will leave the reflection in the backburner. There are select reflections that I am craving to write and share, but I am genuinely irked at the notion of folk judging or seeing me differently purely because I want to express a willingness to be open, which I know to some extent will help others. To others, they are too prideful to acknowledge that such a reflection would affect them. So yeah, I have two select reflections that I have close to my chest. Time will tell.

The real reason behind this unexpected context that I didn’t plan to write is partly because of the sporadic nature that I feel inspired by God to write in the hope of encouraging others, who may stumble upon my blog, but also to subtly share with friends and neighbours who may be interested in my current wellbeing and relationship with the LORD.

Regarding the Starbucks backdrop, well, this is what I want to focus on, but more so with customer servicing. I have never worked in retail, but I do have sufficient frontline experience dealing with people in the area of customer servicing across all three sectors (public, private and third).

I am not a fan of the political correctness culture that we have suddenly adopted that seem to cater and please all demographics of humanity. Perhaps it is good in one sense, but do we really need to associate everyone under a legal label. Even the nature of customer servicing, we ultimately work for customers and clients. For those who work in medicine, the terminology is changed to patients.

We are no longer personal on human terms. It’s not Paul at Starbucks who orders a Tall Skinny Late every weekday morning at 8.15am, or Laura a social worker who covers night shift at a local service centre, who attends and looks after a gentleman called George.

I genuinely hate the label association. It upsets me. Perhaps it is a reminder that I grew up with associated labels (mainly race labels), when I was growing up during my tender years of my childhood in two Scottish towns. I also cringe at the denominational labels that we have at Church, and I don’t like how churches seem to focus more on marketing and branding than pursuing genuine and sustaining discipleship through the Scriptures. I have no idea why I get irritated about this. Perhaps I need to see a counsellor, or maybe the LORD is speaking to me. Maybe, I should really be a “Yes Man” and gleefully accept such social standings and move on. Maybe, I should just leave such petty concerns at the foot of the cross and be done with it. After all, who cares?

Because of this profound aggravation and the implication of our mass-induced labelling culture that we live by, I still feel compelled to pursue this Kingdom-focused vision. I struggle to identify a local church (or even a secular workplace for that matter), where there is a non-branded discipleship programme that actively helps people to nurture and grow in their skills and wellbeing, which they can strive to pursue and fulfil. Challenging, I know.

Take for example the respected workplace association (Investors in People), where they champion people. But really, there is an artificial sense of fulfilment. Depends on the nature of the Company, you may receive a staff benefit (i.e. flexible hours, etc.), whereas some companies will literally throw money at you in expensive training courses. Most of the times, there is no such thing as a staff benefit, but the CEO will quietly benefit from your hard labour, as he now has enough money to upgrade his BMW. Now you get why I have a wrestling match with regards to company structures.

On the other hand, a local church may churn out Christian programmes such as The Alpha Course or Christianity Explored. People come and go for various reasons. Most of them are manufactured to complete the course, which result in superficial positive numbers for a local church to clap about, but the hard-hitting goal for any local church is to disciple born-again believers in a growing environment, beyond the sporadic nature of these intriguing short courses. I never came to faith through these courses, I just knew when I was younger that I needed the LORD Jesus Christ in my life.

At the end of day, whether it’s the workplace or even a local church, we are sadly a people of statistics. I am a male, which slots me into one category. I am X years of age, which slots me into another category. I am associated with X denomination, which literally locks me into another group. The list goes on.

It is my desire to somehow pursue personal and unconditional customer servicing. I want to be identified by my name of a known character, and not employee number 3452 of Company X, who was also customer number 72 at a local Starbucks during morning rush hour.

Perhaps if we were all appreciated as unique individuals, much like how Christ sees us in His image, then we would perhaps value our jobs, ourselves, or associated church, where we are no longer masked by statistical numbers and categories for internal or external infographics, but valued as one created in the image of Christ.

~Richard