Things That Happen at Starbucks

All apologies to my former churches, current church and future churches.

The Starbucks store at 1912 Pike Place. This i...
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I just can’t think at an office setting.
I don’t know why. I try. But I sit there and… instead of focusing on what I need to, I focus on other unnecessary stuff. For some reason, I’m a better steward of my, church’s and God’s time when I’m NOT in the office. I’m less distracted. I know this often doesn’t bode well at times. In one of my former settings, the pastor and I constantly butted heads over this issue. Mainly because I couldn’t agree with the REASON why he wanted me to be in the office. I’m sure I would’ve relented more if he worded it differently or gave an all different reason. His reason was to show good face for the church folks who stopped by. Which rarely happened, because that church modeled the visitation ministry. We went to parishioners homes and places of business to interact with them.

Parishioners came to the church, most of the time, when there was “official” church business, which I meant that I was already at church.

And I was at the point of my life, where everything about how “showy” Koreans were bothered me. I didn’t want to “show off” the youth to the congregation to show how well we were doing. I wasn’t called to that church to show or save face, but to engage people through the God’s grace. So when he said, “I want you to be in the office so that we can show the church how hard working you are.”
I pushed back.
And yes, looking back, I do regret how rebellious I may have been. And I probably would have handled it differently today, maybe even barter or what not.

Anyway, sorry for the digression.
Years ago, I made a goal to make one contact with someone outside of the church a day. Some days, I was on a roll. Other days, didn’t speak to a soul.

About a month ago, I was sitting at my regular Starbucks (I now know the regulars and most of the staff) when a woman asked me if that was a Bible I was reading.
So we talked a little. She told me about the church she attends in our valley. I shared with her what church I worked at, which was near her workplace.
She wanted to know what I was reading, for what reason, what I was reading the particular chapter for. And that was pretty much that.

Today, I was waiting for the barista to finish making my drink, and I see a walking fast towards me, waving her hand.
“Do you remember me?”
It took me a second, but she was the lady from the paragraph above.
“Yes! You work at the (place near our church).”
“Yes! Here, I have this prayer request for you.”
She handed me a piece of post-it paper with her daughter’s name on it.
She began to share with me the frustrations and pain she feels for her daughter who is in a situation no woman should be in.
She said she would feel better knowing that I would be keeping her daughter in my prayers.

I thanked her for sharing something like that with me, especially when she barely knows me. I gave her my business card and asked her to keep me updated and let me know if there’s anything else I may be able to help with. She just wanted my prayers.

I don’t think this lady will ever attend our church. I’m sure she is happy at her Baptist church, and if we actually discussed theology, she might find our thoughts miles apart. But that’s not what is important here. I’m glad she has a faith home and I’m sure she asked her pastor or her church family for prayers also.

It’s one of the those small moments that affirms my belief that as a United Methodist pastor, I’m not appointed to serve just the people within our church campus/property/walls, but to the community of Santa Clarita Valley.

I sat here looking over my ordination papers.
I wrote that I often pray to God to make me an extrovert for just 8 hours each day, because I’m such an introvert.
I sat here and thought about all the people I’ve talked to at the Starbucks here in Granary Square.
And I see how God answers that silly little prayer of mine.

In a time where I feel pretty down on myself because of my ordination papers and the fear that comes along with the possibility of failure, today’s unexpected God moment served as a small, but firm, affirmation of my calling.

Thanks be to God.

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