‘Tis the season for long lines, traffic, agonizingly slow checkout clerks and rude customers. It doesn’t quite seem to fit in a time of year that is supposed to be full of “peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.”

As I’ve mentioned one or a dozen times before, I am not always the most patient person. I hate standing in line at the grocery or at Target or anywhere else–inevitably, I pick the line with a) a cashier in training, b) a customer in need of a price check, or c) a cashier in training waiting on a manager to handle a price check. My patience is typically lacking year round–and even more so during the increasingly busy Christmas season.

I’ve been known to mutter, mumble, grumble and gripe while standing in line. Even if I don’t voice my displeasure, my thoughts run rampant with it, and my body language (frowns, crossed arms, sighs and scowls) speaks volumes. I may not cause a scene and bless out the cashier for not moving things along. But neither do I often bless them with a smile and words of appreciation for their hard work under stressful circumstances.

Reading today’s post on Carolyn McCulley’s blog about showing grace to cashiers and other “front-line” employees during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season made me think about how often I pass up opportunities to be Christlike in similar situations. It’s all too tempting to gripe and complain about poor service. Even if we feel that the cashier, store manager, waiter or other service personnel do not “deserve” a gracious attitude, we are still expected by Christ to extend grace. After all, none of us “deserve” the grace He freely gives us–and we treat Him much worse than a surly cashier.

I’m going to challenge myself to be extra-sensitive this holiday season to the service people I encounter. Like me, they sometimes have bad days and sleep-deprived nights and headaches and car trouble. While I don’t want to be standing in line, they would probably rather be elsewhere, too, like at home with their families.

I’m going to try to show grace to those God puts in my path to help me, and I invite you to join in on this challenge. Let’s consider how Jesus would treat the men and women in the retail and food service industries that He would come into contact with, and act accordingly. Let’s give them a smile and a “thank you” for their service, even if it’s slower than we would like. Let’s make “peace on Earth and goodwill to men” more of a reality than just song lyrics. Anyone care to join me?

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