Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, had an employee policy that said every Walmart employee was required to verbally acknowledge every customer within a 10 foot distance of the employee, whether the employee was standing still or walking somewhere.
The founder knew the endearing influence of his employees upon the customers of his Walmart stores in order to grow his business. Long after Sam Walton died this policy was still posted as part of a multi-point customer pledge at the Walmart website.
Obviously, the policy has gone away with it’s founder and the strength of Walmart is its low prices not customer service. (This may be a good place for me to add that there are usually a few employees who would make Sam Walton proud.)
Somewhere along the line, however, customer service took a back seat to an emphasis on low prices, and it seems that their price points are enough to keep them dominating market share.
Now I’m simply sharing a perspective, I’m a pastor, not a retail business consultant, but after years yielding to Walmart employees pushing me out of their way without any consideration of my presence, I’ve finally found a moral to the story…
It has finally occurred to me that we Christians (me included) have become as unaware and unconcerned about our founders values when it comes to being a “peculiar people” among the world.
We could even say that somewhere along the line we have strayed from the Christianity of our founder with dimming lights, bigger bushels to hide under, ineffective salt, and no offer or witness of anything better let alone different.
Next time you walk through Walmart take note if the employees are really any different than the customers – sometimes they are even dressed the same and hardly look any different – but chances are they will not offer anything different than any other chance encounter with any other human.
You’ll likely see a Walmart logo on a shirt or too, but its also likely to be no different than the driver whose car just cut you off in traffic leaving you to wonder about their church bumper sticker.
Imagine the endearing power of a smile, a greeting, or conversation from an employee to lighten and lift your day on a simple shopping trip.
Now imagine the endearing power of a smile, a greeting, or a conversation from a Christian to lighten and lift the day of one struggling as a restrictive Muslim, a distant Jew, a disengaged Buddhist, a hopeless atheist, or even a burdened legalistic church member.
1 Peter 2:9 states “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you of darkness into his marvelous light” and that light is Jesus shining through us in our interactions with others.
Have we as Christians become no different than the world around us? We may be similar on the outside in some ways, but we ought to be different on the inside.
I’m going to keep shopping at Walmart, but I am going to do it with a different perspective and a prayer that asks the Spirit of God to remind me to “show forth the praises of him who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light.”