What I Learned from Waiting to Pay for Pizza



I like being a servant. Until somebody treats me like one.


Recently I was waiting in line to pay for my food at a local pizza joint. Suddenly a 2nd cash register opened with the announcement, “I can help the next person in line.” Faster than a speeding bullet, the lady behind me cuts in front of me and over to pay – before I even flinched. At first I was just surprised, maybe even slightly amused by her rudeness. But within about 10 seconds my dominating emotion was anger. I just stood there, continuing to wait in line but I was mad. At the cutting in line lady. At the behind-the-counter pizza lady for allowing such an injustice. At the pizza store manager for not properly training employees in such a manner as to prevent such miscarriages of justice. I almost said something snotty but kept my mouth shut because one of these Cretans might visit my church someday. So I smoldered in silence.


In retrospect, I began to analyze my inordinate emotional reaction to the situation. Why did I get so angry??!!!


After all – this incident merely resulted in my paying for my pizza about 60 seconds later than otherwise. I wasn’t in a hurry. I still got my food. What was the big deal?


The answer? I was treated like a servant. And I didn’t like it. Not one bit.


If the lady had asked if she could go in front of me – I would have said, “Yeah, no problem.” And meant it. On one of my better days I might have even gotten the idea myself and invited her to go before me. But that is not what happened.


And what happened exposed me for who I am. (Or at least who I was at that moment.)


Proud. Easily provoked. Impatient. Uptight.


That doesn’t sound like the description of Jesus – does it? Or a servant of Jesus?


I know he calls me to be humble. Gentle. Long-suffering. Without anger or malice.


So I confess. I acknowledge I still have some growing to do. I need God’s help to keep my spirit in a good place. Especially when I’m in line at the pizza joint.


Maybe it would be easier if I just stopped eating pizza…