Message From Matt | June 1, 2018

Lessons learned at Panera…

If I am not studying at home, I am often at a local Panera to study for an upcoming message.  I like coming here for several reasons.  One, I love their almond milk hot chocolate!  Two, during certain times of the day it is a fairly quiet place to be.  Three, I oftentimes get inspiration for message illustrations or these email messages from the people that I observe.  Yes, I am one of those…a people watcher! 

I try not to be one of those “creepy” people watchers and feel that I have developed a stealth-like ability to do this without being noticed; at least I hope I am not noticed. If you are a people watcher as well, you’ll agree with me that we often feel like we can figure out what is going on in people’s lives by just observing them, but in reality we probably don’t have them figured out at all.  Yet, I still watch, I oftentimes make judgments, but always I am looking to learn.

For example, I learned by observing people at Panera that if you scream at your two year old because he is screaming, that the two year old will only scream  louder and you will look silly.  I learned that having the appropriate amount of clothing on is always a  good idea no matter what your body type is!  I learned that if you are a big burly guy with a big booming voice that you should learn to use your inside voice….especially if your table is next to mine.  I learned that if you are a young married couple that you should keep your PDA’s (public displays of affections) at normal levels.  But maybe the best thing that I learned is that there is beauty in learning from the older what love and sacrifice looks like.  

I learned this from an elderly couple that walked in a few minutes before I was going to leave.  They might have looked like a normal couple, but something caught my attention and I decided to stay around a little longer to observe.  The couple, who I assume were in their late eighties or early nineties, walked slowly together to a table close to me.  She was blind and completely dependent on him for guidance, protection and care.  With their food in front of them, he would cut hers in small portions and feed her.  If she needed a drink, he would bring the cup and straw close to her so she could drink.  If she made a mess, he would clean it up.  When it was time to leave, he would be there to help her up and walk her to the car.  This guy modeled service and as a couple you can tell that they loved and depended on each other!

Watching them gave me a good glimpse of what love is…it’s sacrifice!  It’s devotion!  It’s service!  It’s preferring someone more than yourself!  

Although I have learned these traits before,  it was good to see them modeled again!  From watching them, I was encouraged to sacrifice and serve my bride, family and friends in greater ways.  I was challenged to be a man that modeled Christlikeness!  

I realized once more how good it is that we see people doing what Christ established (see Ephesians 5:21-33) for the church.  It is good for us to learn from the older what is important in life and where our focus and attention should be.  When we are younger and full of energy we oftentimes think that we have things figured out, or at least can easily figure things out, but I have learned in my  life that I really don’t have things figured out.  I am still learning, still growing, and still in need of mentors!  I learned that I need the older people to share their life experiences…to do life with us that are younger.  
So with that being said,  I want to remind us all that we need each other!  As we are going through this life together, we will have times of great joys and great sorrows,  and we can learn from those who have “been there and done that” on how to process all that is happening (see Titus 2).  Look for ways to pour your lives into others, especially those that are younger in age and in faith.
Matt Roller