June 15, 2016
Teachers Talk - Serving Others Through Christian Principles
Ellen Bannis, Principal, Grandview Adventist Academy, Mount Hope, ON

‘She said what?’ ‘Like that?’ ‘Is he listening to me?   ‘Really, her attitude is so disrespectful.  Why do people have to be so rude?’  I am sure that we have all experienced unsatisfactory customer service.  Maybe you have felt the frustration of having to wait at length for someone to attend to you, either face-to-face, or on the other end of a phone. Perhaps you have been on the receiving end of a verbal onslaught or even yourself have delivered poor customer service.   How do we avoid or counteract such negative attitudes? What would Jesus do? (WWJD).
Whether we find ourselves in retail or education, providing excellent and effective customer service is imperative.  Education is a customer service industry. We are in the business of serving parents, staff and students as well as other stakeholders such as school board members and visitors to the school.  How constructive or destructive is our communication or interaction with the people we come into contact with?   Good customer service involves building relationships and loyalty.  This can be brought about by having a willingness to listen, exercising patience, taking time to analyse the situation before responding and thus allowing for individuals to feel respected.  In actual fact, James 1:19-20 says that ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.’  Wait!  Press pause for a second.  What is Christ asking us to do?  Simply, to take time to listen and love our neighbour.  Simply?  I think not.  
Some years ago when I was studying law, part of the course necessitated that I study Law of Tort.  One case that stands out in my mind is that of Donoghue v Stevenson (1932), otherwise known as the ‘ginger beer case.’  Briefly stated, Mrs. Donoghue was drinking a bottle of ginger beer.  A dead snail was in the bottle.  She fell ill and subsequently sued the ginger beer manufacturer, Mr. Stevenson. Lord Atkin formulated the famous ‘Neighbour Principle’ –
‘The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour… You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour.  Who, then, in law, is my neighbour?  The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.’ We must love our neighbour -  English law states it and God’s Word states it.   Matt. 5:43 commands us to love everyone, not just the easy parents or model students.   Let us remember that in everything we do, say or think, we influence for good or bad.    We as educators, are fortunately in a position to make a difference in the lives of others. Patience and understanding is key.  In fact, when we do the opposite, we fail to be the witness that God expects us to be. ‘
Whether on the phone or face-to-face, here are some practical steps to be taken to ensure that we are always dealing with others in a Christ-like manner:
  1. In my dealings with others, am I representing Christ in my overall attitude towards others?  
  2. Do I show compassion regardless of the situation or the individual (s) with whom I am dealing?
  3. Do others feel comfortable coming to me as an administrator, teacher or support staff?
  4. Do I use every opportunity to encourage and support my students by demonstrating a caring and nurturing environment?
  5. Do I treat everyone I support in the same way, regardless of my personal feelings?
  6. Am I proactive rather than reactive?
  7. Do I believe that this is more than ‘just a job’ and that I am actually partnering with God is this important Teaching Ministry?  
(Courtesy of Tricia Watt)
Remember this chorus – ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.’  God has entrusted us with some very precious souls and their families.  Are you serving Christ to them?  The Christian difference in customer service means that you demonstrate care to your patrons.  ‘Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honour the one who serves me:” John 12: 26.  Choose to offer your customers a service befitting of a Christian.