customer service

I do like nice coffee. It is one of my little indulgences. And to that end I was chuffed when Sally (Mrs Nukelearfishing) gave me a nice glass mug (full of sweets) for Valentine’s Day. Somehow it makes drinking nice coffee just that little bit nicer. In fact it was so nice that when I received a birthday 25% discount voucher from the high street store* from which she purchased the glass mug (which was very nice of them) I decided to use it (and some of the money I was kindly given for my birthday) to buy three more of them so I could bless others with nice coffee in nice glass coffee mugs.

(It also means that I have a supply of them for when the dishwasher has not yet worked its magic on any I have recently used).

I ordered the glass mugs from the high street store’s website, using the discount code, and was pleased with how quickly the delivery arrived. Because I am a bit of a cheapskate I decided to have them delivered to the local store (which is free) rather than pay to have them delivered to my home and then having to chase them up when the card is pushed through the door saying that they were unable to deliver my parcel. When I got to the store yesterday I went to the collection point and the nice lady went and got the box in which they were delivered.

She opened the box up and two of the three glass mugs were cocooned in amazing protective paper ‘cocoons’. I think I could have dropped them from an upstairs window and they would not have broken. The third one was in a little bubble wrap envelope. I made a joke to the nice lady about wondering what that mug had done wrong not to have been wrapped so well and she smiled indulgently (see, I told you she was nice). She wrapped it in some of the packaging that was in the box and then put all three in a bag for me to take home.

When I got home I unwrapped the glass mugs and was disappointed to see that the one which was in the bubble wrap envelope had a couple of obvious scratches on it. Perhaps that is why it was on its own and not in a paper cocoon. The other two were in pristine condition. I decided to contact the customer services people on the phone number that came with the receipt and a very nice man on the other end of the phone listened to my problem, apologised sincerely, and arranged for a new glass mug to be delivered to the store today. He also said that I did not need to return the scratched one and that if it was serviceable (it is) I could use that too.

Now that’s what I call good customer service. Indeed, I think that is a good example of grace.

It made me wonder whether that is the sort of grace and service that people expect to receive from churches? If not, why not? And surely we should be exceeding that considering the grace we have received from God…

Be blessed, be a blessing

*I am not endorsing any particular retail business but if you wanted to know which one it was it is often known by the initials of the two founders that might sound like ’emaness’.

the unwinner is…

red carpetSo the Academy has made its awards. Oscars have been given to the winners. The nominees who were not chosen have put on their best ‘I’m so pleased for the winner, it was an honour just to be nominated’ smiles. The speeches have been speeched, the thank-yous have been thanked, the tears have been shed. The after-parties have been attended, the interviews are over. Now the red carpet is being rolled up again and the hysteria is dying down.

This whole business of awards interests me. It is good to commend excellence. It is good to encourage. It is good to inspire people to do better. But where was the award for best cup of tea? Where was the award for most thoughtful word of encouragement? Where are the awards for the hundreds of names that scroll past our eyes at the end of a film (when we wait in case there’s an extra bit right at the end)? I would love to see an award for ‘Best Best Boy’!

I know you could say that the awards that are given include recognition for those who have worked behind the scenes but that’s a bit like posting a blanket ‘thank you’ on Facebook for all your Christmas presents rather than writing individual thank you cards or making personal phone calls.

So this bloggage is a reminder to me to make sure that I thank people. I don’t get it right all the time, and I am sorry for that. But as well as thanking the obvious people, I want to encourage us to thank the people who often go unnoticed, the people who may feel unappreciated, those who will never win an award: the unwinners.

And what’s the award? It’s a Wedogofase, which stands for ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’. To all of the unwinners who have worked hard without thanks and without recognition I present you with a Wedogofase from God. I will try to present it to you personally.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

isn’t it ironic?

In the last week I have posted twice about the renovation that I have carried out on a toy car (see here and here if you have missed them). Today I took my real car to a garage because it has been making some less than healthy noises. I had checked online and it seemed to me that there was a fault with the flywheel.

I have just had a call from the garage and my diagnosis was correct. The flywheel was definitely on its way out and needs replacing – along with the clutch system at the same time (since they are there). I had checked out the price of the parts and had expected that it wouldn’t be cheap and it isn’t. But it needs to be done.

The irony of the situation struck me a moment ago – I have been expressing joy at how my toy car repair has been going while all the time the real one has been slowly disintegrating.

I think you can do your own application here about priorities!

Not much point being able to rev a lot if the car won't move!

Not much point being able to rev a lot if the car won’t move!

What I was actually thinking about this morning is how (for normal non-mechanic mortals like me) if you had asked me to name the parts of a car I would have been very unlikely to have come up with ‘Dual Mass Flywheel’. But it is an essential component. Without it driving would be a very jerky clunky affair, if you could do it at all. The flywheel is the bit attached to the engine that spins around and smooths out a lot of the vibrations and provides continuous rotation within the engine. It would be very difficult to get the power from the engine through to the wheels on the road without other components being torn apart by the torque if there wasn’t a flywheel. It’s also the bit that keeps the engine turning over after you have got ‘ignition’, and is usually the bit the starter motor turns to get the engine going in the first place. *

I have learnt stuff about flywheels today!

Who or what are the flywheels in your life? Who or what keeps you going? What helps you to smooth out the bumps and cope with the vibration of life? Who are the unsung heroes of your life, of your church, of your business, of your community? Who are the ones who are only noticed when they are not there?

Perhaps today should be national flywheel day in honour of those people. Give them a hug, a phone call, a text message, send them a letter, give them chocolate (or a low fat, diabetic-friendly alternative). Let them know they are appreciated.

Give thanks to God for the flywheels in your life.

Be blessed, be a blessing.


*According to the websites I looked at – I don’t really understand too much more than I have written here so please don’t start asking me any technical questions! And don’t get too critical if my low tech explanation is incorrect.


appreciating assets

Happy KidIt’s nearly here. I am getting quite excited, and it’s not even the day yet. I have to admit I have been doing one or two sneaky things to prepare for the big event. I have been doing a little bit of shopping to make sure that I have everything I need. I have been writing a list of all of the things that I need to do, people with whom I need to correspond, activities that need preparation, you know the sort of thing.

No, I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about my return to work. I have been away from the church I serve for just over three months: most of it on sabbatical leave and the last three weeks on sick leave following an operation that we hope will once again relieve the constant migraine that plagues my brain. (In case you were wondering, it will take several months before we know how effective the new gadget is).

I am really looking forward to going back to work. I have not done any of the normal ministry-type things for 3 1/2 months. I have missed sermon preparation and preaching. I have missed visiting people in their homes. I have even missed Deacon’s Meetings and Church Meetings – honestly, they are a real blessing in our church even when we are discussing difficult matters.

But most of all I have missed the people who are Colchester Baptist Church. we are an eclectic bunch with a range of preferences, ideas, emphases, personalities, backgrounds, experiences, ages and many other differences. But the most important thing is that we love one another as we are all followers of Jesus, committed to doing that through being part of Colchester Baptist Church.

I’m looking forward to catching up with people and finding out what has been happening in their lives. I’m looking forward to hearing what God has been doing with people as individuals and families, and with the church. I’m looking forward to worshipping God together with my spiritual family once again.

It is said that you only truly appreciate something when you no longer have it. I suspect that this has been one of the benefits of my sabbatical leave: not that I took our church for granted beforehand, but it has helped me recognise how important the church is to me (remembering of course at the church of the people not the institution).

One of the joys of sabbatical leave is that I will have the opportunity to return to what I have missed. I am preaching my first sermon this coming Sunday morning. several people have asked me whether I had been preparing this sermon for 3 1/2 months, which suggests there is a certain degree of expectation! No pressure then.

And then it’s Christmas, which I absolutely love in the local church. It is one of the things that I missed most when I worked in our denomination’s national office and I’m so glad that I will be back in time to celebrate together with my spiritual family.

There used to be a Peanuts cartoon with Snoopy on top of his kennel, with the caption ‘Appreciate me now and avoid the rush’. Perhaps rather than waiting for the rush we should show our appreciation for one another more frequently.

Be blessed, be a blessing.