I love to be in empty performance halls. There is a sense of quiet expectation.

While you are setting the stage, working on the last-minute details, all the people that will be sitting here tomorrow are living their lives. This event is one more item on their schedule.

So as you are preparing for this room to fill, how does your perspective change if you move from filling it with paying customers to filling it with guests?

If they are customers, they pay and you deliver.

If they are guests, they come with a sense of wanting to belong, of wanting to be welcomed. It’s okay if they have to bring some money, guests bring food to parties all the time, (particularly when it’s a potluck.) If they are guests, especially good friend guests, they are on your side. They want it to be a great time, they want to overlook the odd things. They just want to be part of the party, the event.

The more we treat them like customers, the more they expect perfection and the less they give us grace. The more we treat them like customers, the less we have to be nice to them, because the niceness is purchased.

The more we treat them like guests, the easier it is to be nice to them, because we are less worried about the price and more interested in the relationship.

Whether we are filling a concert hall or a blog or a hardware store, what if we thought about guests?

What do you think?


4 responses to “expectation

  1. Is an empty performance hall like an empty church? Are parishioners guests?

  2. you know, that’s a very wonderful question.

    Church service as performance troubles some people.

    But what if we treated each other as guests more often, in the “good friends coming over for a meal” kind of guests, the every Friday night kind of guests. And often, when there are guests like that, we hears some of the same stories. And that is okay because we love to hear them. And sometimes someone brings a friend who just needs some friends. And that’s okay. And people are comfortable with each other. Sometimes there is some tension, but it gets worked out.

    Because you know that loving one another is the point.

    And we know that things don’t have to be perfect, either in space or in activity. But we want to have people have a place to sit, to be comfortable, to be treasured.

  3. I was a computer tech and customer support person for 13 years. I also owned a guitar shop. Over time, I’ve learned for myself that a customer deserves to be given my best, as though they were a guest in my house. So I assert that treating someone like a customer *can* be a good thing. Congregants can be viewed as customers, the same way I view my wife and children as customers, in that they pay me with their very existence, something that I can never fully repay.

    …just a thought…

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