About the Author

Lysa TerKeurst is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has lead thousands over the past 15 years to help make their walk with God an invigorating journey. Not...

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  1. Lysa,
    What you so poignantly related here is the exact reason why I chose the word “Grace” for my watch word for 2015. God pours out His grace like rain on me…and then what do I do with it? Do I pass it on or do I measure out judgment? God has put it on my heart for me to truly try to walk in another man’s/woman’s shoes before I make my hasty frustrated judgments. Like you said, they are people too – with lives and to do lists and frustrations all their own. If I want to be a directional arrow pointing people toward Jesus…I need to act a little more like Him. Thanks for the great encouragement this morning!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. This really hits home for me. Hospital work is frustrating on so many levels, and nurses are caught between many needs. I am not in direct patient care, but having been there at one time, I feel their pain when I hear, “but I don’t have enough staff to take another patient!” (I work as an Admission nurse, figuring out what units have beds and where we can place patients from the ER, other hospitals in outlying areas that need to refer someone to a higher level of care, and unplanned urgent admissions from local.clinics and offices. Not to mention all od the SCHEDULED patients for procedures! I haven’t picked a watchword for this year because I am having a hard time narrowing my focus. Perseverance? (We all know what happens when you ask for patience!)
    Thank you for sharing your experience with the customer service lady. That is an all too familiar scenario for me.

  3. As you eluded to, it’s easier to treat others like people when we are treating ourselves like people. If we see ourselves as producing machine whose job is to check items off a to-do list, then we are more likely to see others as a means to an end. I have a feeling this post will stick with me today. Thank you!

    • I like your quote stall between receive and retain. This is so true or my version receive and misplace, I have a hard remembering what I have received so that I can put it into action.

  4. Each time I interact with a stranger I try to remind myself that this person may have hurts they’re carrying that are just as painful as mine. They may be trying to hide a broken heart behind a mask, and I want to be gentle enough to allow them to feel comfortable enough to lower their mask.
    http://www.intentionally graced.blogspot.com

  5. Kinda had the same experience the other day with someone on the phone. I was frustrated and I am sure she was too. I too seem to forget that on the other end of the conversation is a person. Thanks for the post

  6. This hit home with me, especially this time of the year when stores are still crazy with people returning and exchanging items. I read once that sin is often us not getting what we want when/how we want it. I must strive to exhibit godly behaviors in all I do and say. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. As someone that works in customer service trust me you are right. There are days that all I deal with is cranky, ill tempered people that blame me for only doing my job. I have been in customer service in one way or another for over 20 years and it takes it’s toll on you. Don’t get me wrong there are some nice people that you look forward to serving. They have a polite, warm smiles that brighten your day. But sad to say they are few and far between. Most customers want to blame & belittle you and it breaks down your spirit. You go to work feeling good but by the time you go home you have been beaten down. I think everyone should work customer service at least a little while in their life and they wouldn’t be so quick to jump on someone that’s only doing their job. I try to greet everyone with a smile and help them to the best of my ability. I love when they smile back and are kind.

  8. Lysa….I am always sooooooo super encouraged by your humility and the amazing and very real life you share with us! Thank you for always helping us see that we are not alone! Thank you for always bringing us back to Jesus and helping us stay close to Him! I too have wrestled with customer service reps at times. Thank you for reminding me how to remember them as people dearly loved by our Amazing Father. Have an amazing day!

  9. This does hit home. I am a hyper getter done type person. I actually do hate it when something gets in the way of progress and I have to not react. Thank you for sending this and I will also pray the prayer that my actions and reactions and something my LORD can be proud of.

  10. Oh Lysa-thank you for being so humble and acknowledging your imperfections allowing God to do a beautiful work through you!
    I worked in a call center for a major airline for 9 years. It’s astonishing to me how mean people can be over the phone. Many days I left in tears wondering how someone could be so cruel when I was simply doing my job and/or what I was expected to do for my company. And dealing with this day after day can sometimes take a toll on your attitude and outlook toward people. I didn’t make the rules, and often I didn’t agree with them, and sometimes it broke my heart to say, “I’m sorry, I cannot do what you are asking”. I actually did break the rules once and broke policy to help a customer. I got caught, yelled at, felt humiliated by my supervisor, and recieved a write up that stayed in my permanent record.
    So thank you for remembering that she was a person, just doing her job, with feelings and problems and being mindfull of how your (our) reactions can impact others. Reading this brought joy to my heart. God is so sweet and awesome- thank you again for allowing us to see His reflection through your life!

  11. Just like you I started to really see other people with stress, problems and busy schedules. Sometimes we’re so caught up in our own little world we rush right past hurting people. God is showing me that a simple smile can be His love for someone. Thanks for this message.

  12. Thanks, Lysa! My watchword for 2015 is “Now.” I choose today to live in the moment. For too long I have waited. Waited for: the next paycheck, the next weekend, the next holiday, the next big event on the calendar. Always tomorrow! Tomorrow will be fulfilling. Today is just a time to endure. BUT — TODAY — I — CHOOSE — TO — LIVE — IN — THE — MOMENT! I choose to enjoy being alive, to enjoy my relationship with the Lord, to enjoy my relationships with my family and friends and to enjoy the beauty of God’s beautiful creation! So for 2015 the good word is “NOW.”

  13. If you only new how close to home this has hit me today.. Thank you so much for bringing me back to God.

  14. Oh, yes, Lysa. I, too, want to reflect God’s character in my actions and reactions. I suppose following the golden rule would be a logical place to start. And a crop of good will and joy is sure to result! Thank you for the inspiring article, Lysa.

  15. Thank you SO much for this post!! I know over the last several weeks I have been impatient with some folks (both in person and online reps). And to be honest just again this morning. A couple weeks ago we went out to dinner and the hostess sat us at a table I didn’t like, so I gave her a disguised look. Part way through the dinner I KNEW I needed to apologize to her, I saw her as a young gal trying to make a living (probably earning minimum wage) and wondered about her life. Toward the end of the dinner I slipped away from the table and apologized for my glaring look I had given her earlier. I think she was surprised that I did that. And I know I felt better apologizing to her.

  16. Lisa, such a good reminder about how we react or respond during times of frustration and the message we are sending by reacting wrong!!! Defintely not reflecting the character of Christ!!! Thank you for the message and for the reminder…and the realization to think of those on the phone as humans with feelings too not some autonomous being that doesn’t feel 🙂

  17. Lysa,

    I rarely comment on any posts. But, lately I have been prone to get “angry” at the lack of customer service and blaming the person on the other end as being the sole reason why I didn’t get my way…and I let my feelings known. I am immediately remorseful when I hang up the phone, or walk away from the service counter, or what have you. My “instant anger” bothers me, but your post has helped me today. Vicki is so right. I live in DC, and therampant complacent attitude, the rudeness-oh my…I’m falling into place. That’s not good. I needed your post today…Thank you.

  18. Thank you for the lesson today and every day. Today was one needed to use, and I pray for a soft heart daily .

  19. Very encouraging he really touched y heart and really teach me to be humble as that is what I am always praying for to be humble in any and any circumstances. Thank you Lord.

  20. Thank you! This happened to me this morning, but in person after waiting in line for 3-1/2 hours (most of it in 5 degrees below zero weather, having lost my gloves) after having been turned away because they apparently called my number in the 2 minutes I left to move my car. They had told me it would be at least 2 more hours before I srepped out the door. 🙁 I didn’t come “Unglued” but I did ask to speak to a manager, which did nothing for any of us. My one little word for this year is “Onward” I need to remember that word as I should’ve moved there! Thank you, Lysa

  21. I am embarrassed to say I have been known to become overly frustrated and rude to customer service reps in the past. It had to be God that tapped me on my brain one day and said, “the person on the other end of the phone could be sitting in your pew at church…would you like them to know that was you yelling like that?” Ouch. I vowed then to walk a mile in their shoes…

  22. Ugh. I should have read this post before I got a call today. I was not very nice and ended up hanging up on the poor young woman. As you state, not her fault. She was just doing her job with the information she had been given – incorrect information, but no way for her to know that. Shame on me.

  23. Wow! And thanks. Isn’t your tale a reminder of a God who often gives a demonstration of what we did wrong? He loves us so much to give us demonstrations and shows us ways to love Him and His people better and better. My prayer is that I contlnue to be tender and teachable. And to not “enjoy” those moments of anonymonity and become “unglued” (good title for a book!,,,,,,)when I think no one’s watching or knows my name. Thanks for keeping it real…

  24. I was the person on the other end of the phone this past summer as I did a seasonal call center job. I worked 42 hours one week and 50 the next taking 75 -80 phone calls a day from people calling about lawn mower parts. One day it was so mentally draining I called off helping with the grief support group at church that night. I could not deal with people after the day I had. I’ve dealt with rude, nasty, arrogant people, men who don’t believe a woman can know what lawn mower part they need, and men who can’t get their model/serial number because they are sitting on their “throne.” (I’m not kidding.)

    So yes, please remember the person in a customer service call center is a person. We deal with a lot and then go home to deal with flooded basements because God blessed us with 5 inches of rain in a few hours.

    May God bless you and your family with unending joy this year.

  25. Oh my goodness I had a similar situation with a person standing in the way of a leaky roof being fixed. I felt my concerns mattered little to this person so the only solution was turning up the volume of my displeasure. After the call ended and calm returned I heard God’ s voice telling me ” you are to present yourself as a child of God whether others know you are or not” I called back knowing I could talk to this person again and apologized. Honestly I felt compassion as I’m sure she contends with difficult people daily. Thanks for sharing as this is an area that I too struggle with.

  26. My 25 year old daughter worked as a customer service rep for a major health care provider for a couple years. Ever since then I think about how I would prefer a caller to speak to her. So keeping in mind how you would want yourself or a family member to be spoken to, helps. They definitely don’t make the rules. Thank you for this post. Many will think twice when dealing with customer service reps because of it.

  27. Seems it was the day for those type of calls. I called “customer service” today, as well. I wanted to vent my frustration and did but not in the manner I should have – not in the manner of Jesus. Did the girl on the other end of my conversation hear Him in my voice? I sincerely doubt it! What can I do about this? Call back tomorrow and try to rectify the wrong. Thank you Lysa for helping me see the error of my ways. I want Jesus to shine through me and today my window was so frosted He clearly couldn’t be seen or heard.

  28. Excellent post, unfortunately I do recognise myself in your anger!!! And really deepdown I don’t want to be nice in that situation, and I really need God to work in my heart.thank you for your encouragement

  29. I agree with Tracie. Everyone somewhere at a time should spend time in Customer service. I’ve worked customer service for a good 25 years. There are times I need to say a prayer just to get through some customers. Need to keep in mind that some people just are not happy people and when things don’t go right they feel it’s my fault. I just need to keep in mind that the good Lord will back me up if I keep calm. That you for your post it was a home run.

  30. Lysa, great thoughts; thank you for being sensitive to the Spirit. Just curious to know whether you were able to retrace your steps and apologize to the customer service rep.? They may be able to find her by looking up your order number. Usually there is a log of your call.

  31. In the last week or so, God really laid it on my heart that often I act like a spoiled brat.

    A few days later I purchased your book “Unglued” for my Kindle, not knowing it was pretty much about this same issue. I started reading it last night, and I saw myself in what you wrote.

    Too often I have unreasonable anger because I am not getting my way, not a way to act for a woman my age. Not a way to act for a Christian woman. Since realizing this, I am asking myself if I am really being a Light for Jesus, am I reflecting His Glory? Surely not, if I was someone else seeing me act like that, I wouldn’t want anything to do with me, or the God I profess.

    Thankfully, while we walk this earth, it is not too late to make changes, God’s grace covers a multiple of sins, and sinful attitudes. He gave us tools to use to make these changes, His word, prayer and most of all His Spirit. He also gave us brothers and sisters in Christ to help us through such as yourself.

    Every day is a walk to maturity in Christ, I am not there yet, but I am learning to stand on my Faith and not my Feelings.

  32. Hi, Lysa. I hear you! BTW, you were rght. Unless it is clearly stated in easy view of a customer a retailer MUST accept an item for return, by law. I purchased a refurbished laptop from a company we’d used for upkeep, repairs, etc. on our computers for years. I hated it from day one and let them know. They had no return policy posted anywhere. I read the two-sided receipt we always got from them repeatedly. I asked the floor associates for the manager. Repeatedly. I went back to the store, he was never there. So I went in with the Consumer Protection website up on my iPhone and showed it to the associates, to relay to the absent owner. That finally got me a reply. He returned my money and FIRED me as a customer. I had to laugh. Like I’d go back there. LOL

  33. Blech. Hate to start the year off with conviction, but that’s exactly what this post brought me. I’m accepting your words as God’s reminder to get beyond my own challenges to extend grace and love to those around me.

    Thank you!

  34. Hi Lysa, I feel your pain. I purchased an item at a local department store as a Christmas gift. It was to small so my plan was to exchange it-no other problems. I’m a fanatic about keeping receipts so MY frustrations began when I could not find the receipt. After searching the world over for the receipt, it was no where to be found. I decided to try my luck at exchanging without the receipt. When I approached the clerk at the service desk, I asked politely, what the policy was for exchanging/returning without a receipt. I was firmly told that without a receipt they could do nothing. I was shocked needless to say because they wouldn’t even look at it and did not even apologize (very cold). Now this is very upsetting to me because I work/co-own a business myself in this same town and we are expected to accept returns no matter what all the time (we’re always the bad people). However, I didn’t cause a scene. I left the store brokenhearted and disappointed in myself for losing the receipt and went straight to one of the clothes donation boxes scattered all over town and gave it to God. Later that night at home I found the receipt. I can only believe that someone needed THOSE pants.

  35. Lysa, I got so caught up in sharing my story I forgot to mention that I knew -they too- were just doing there job but in my frustrations I told my husband I would never go back to that store again. Not sure if that’s the right attitude or not. Did I really give it to God? Your thoughts on this are certainly welcome.

    Thanks

  36. I’ve been a HUGE fan of {incourage} for several years now! While waiting at the eye doctor this afternoon, I read this post. My daughter and I later went to eat at BWW, and as I left the tip I felt led to write on the receipt “Thank you for your AWESOME service!” My daughter snickered at me a bit about writing it, and I told her about reading Lysa’s post, and how all they probably ever hear are complaints. A few minutes later as we were about to leave the waitress came back to our table, and said that had made her day! She had just started her shift, and already had a customer complaining, and said those encouraging words turned her night around. She really was an AWESOME waitress! Thank you for the encouraging post. May we all start seeing the GOOD, and acknowledging it way more than complaining this year!

  37. Thanks Lysa,

    Needed to hear your post–brought tears to my eyes and was a timely word of encouragement to me from God thru your words!

  38. I like what Penny said, in our everyday encounters, we just do not know what others are dealing with, thus, we should always be kind so as not to add to their troubles.
    My Mom was dying and my sister and I were her caretakers 24/7. Every morning one of my brothers would stop by before his workday to give us a morning break. One morning he ushered us out – “go run some errands, go to the store, go out”, he said to us. We went to Walmart and out in the parking lot after having parked the car, as we were walking towards the store, we saw a woman our age helping her elderly mother get out of their car. At the realization we could no longer do that with our mother who laid in bed at home, dying, we both broke down crying and fell apart – the only thing we could manage to do was to return to our car and head back home. When we got home we related the story to my sister’s young daughters, and one of them said, “thank you, that teaches me to be kind to everyone I come across out there in the world because I do not know what they are dealing with”. It’s been years since, but the incident stayed with me. I find it so true, a smile and kindness is a blessing we can extend daily.

  39. Wow…isn’t this my Monday lunch experience exactly?! Frustrated and annoyed by less than efficient “help” from an employee in the checkout line at the grocery store…I was rushing on my lunch hour from work and my unfriendly attitude toward the girl was my own slap in the face after I’d walked out the door. I realized how often I fall short of living the gospel when I am hurried! I have been praying that God will slow my soul and allow me to remember to acknowledge and lean on Him and His good character especially when I am in those situations. Thanks for your post! It helps my heart to know there are other sisters just like me who don’t always get life exactly right. Especially you, whom I know is kind at heart and very blessed in an intimate relationship with The Lord!

  40. We should all have to work customer service for a week to understand what it feels like to be on the other end of it. I have. And there is not enough money in this world to pay me to be a gate agent at a busy airport. Things happen, like weather…. And if the weather isn’t outside the window where you can see it (instead of where the plane is coming from) people get so crazy!

  41. I wrote a blog post today about a similar topic. Having 5 children ages 6 and under, people notice me with all my kids and I’m often in a high-stress situations. I have to remind myself to apply God’s word and be a light for him even in these stressful moments.

  42. Lysa,

    Thank you for being so real with us. I tend to get “cranky” on the phone. My problem stems not from the people but from the push 1 say this or that and never getting anywhere or anyone. Finally you get someone and you are so frustrated that you may lash out at them for no good reason.

    I agree that everyone should work customer service. That way we will know how to treat people and show them more smiles in our voices.

  43. The Lord gave me this about 28 years ago. We know how effective His correction can be. He addresses our accountability in a matter-of-fact way and then points us toward the path of maturity befitting and expected of His children. I remember the incident as if it were yesterday. Why? Because of the correction, I’m sure.

    Prov 3:30 Strive not with a man without cause if he
    hath done thee no wrong. 🙂

  44. Amen to that…more conviction in my life, God is amazing, just today I was talking to my pastor about how frustated I am in my job and he adviced me to be faithful to God, to be careful how I react to this situation because we have to show what is in us no matter what is around us…God is good☺

  45. What a great word !! Yes I can relate to how respond when in same situation!! Oh how I desire to respond as JESUS would and have His heart and His eyes to see others as He does!!! Being in tune wiht the Holy Spirit is key!! Thanks and God bless!!

  46. My family member works 5 days a week on a phone line with people who are applying for their unemployment compensation. A lost job, a heartache, ALL feel they have been wronged, some of the saddest economic-stories you would ever hear. While most ALL are upset and feel that they have been wronged, I always think that God sent them to my sister. She has counseled people, been kind to them & she told me she had even prayed with some who asked her to! I am very proud of her for being the hands and feet of Christ for so many years. Losing a job can be the most demeaning and challenging situation that many adults will face in life. She said in spite of the stress of her day, she went home every day thankful for the job God provided for her. It helps me to remember in the stress of my day to be grateful to the Father for providing for us. And what a wonderful reminder of the Golden Rule! Let’s treat ALL as if we were the other person on the end of that line.