I’ll never forget the day when the Chick-fil-A cow showed up to celebrate my Dad’s retirement at 90 after 10 years of working as the local Sample Man.
Daddy turned, smiled and said, “Welcome to Chick-fil-A” as he had done thousands of times.
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My mind flashed back to Daddy’s phone call, “Kiddo, I think I’ll turn the church over to a younger pastor who can bring in young families. My work here is done.” I knew he was letting me in on a new decision. Dad never made decisions casually and he was giving me an update. I paid attention wondering what would be next. There was always a ‘next’… never an ending with Dad. Even so, his next words caught me off guard.
“I think I’ve found a place where I can be of service. I’ve been out to the mall… I’ve spoken with Chick-Fil-A and they have a position where I think I’ll be a good fit. They need a new Sample Man…”
At that moment, my look-out-dad defenses kicked in. Dad couldn’t go to work in the mall at 80 years of age, I thought. What is he doing?! An 80 year old man handing out free chicken samples? Shouldn’t he be home retiring like other normal 80 year old men who took naps and played dominoes?
What if someone treated him badly or got impatient with this grandfatherly type guy working out in the public? What if a teenager ran into him racing through the mall? What if he got mugged in the parking lot? I couldn’t bear the thought of him getting an order wrong or being disrespected at this stage of his life. This was my Dad, a distinguished pastor, eloquent speaker, and a gifted counselor.
How could I protect him if he was going to be marching through the mall with a tray of chicken and wearing a silly uniform? Everyone could recognize Dad instantly by his sharp suit, perfectly matched tie, and freshly shined shoes… and now he was going to put on a red apron every day?! I felt anxiety rising up in my chest.
Once I got the nerve to walk the mall during Dad’s shift, I was amazed to watch this distinguished gentleman who had served as a pastor for decades so happy in his new work.
He knew the secrets of how to be happier at work.
I would notice him standing at the counter… easily talking with people of all ages. They all seemed to love him. Often people would comment to the manager asking where they found a man who worked ‘like that’?
My own attitude changed as I watched my Dad bring the same mindset and love to the job as he had done for years as a pastor. I soon saw that his work and fulfillment had little to do with a job title or his level of importance in the eyes of others… He was working for the Lord even as he cleaned tables and picked up other people’s trash.
I’m convinced today My Dad was the best sample man in the history of the company.
Sometimes the path to promotion is not what we expect.
Can a person really make a difference in a job others view as less prestigious or beneath them?
Dad walked with such humility and dignity that he had actually promoted to be the local Chick-Fil-A Sample Man. He found nothing to be beneath him in this job because he knew who he was in God’s eyes and wasn’t defined by the apron or the job title.
My Dad loved serving people in churches from his 20’s to his 80’s with sermons, visits, and love.
It was no different for him when he transitioned to serving chicken bites to quiet a crying child, feed a hungry teenager, or delight a passerby in his new job.
He was still serving and loving people and was happy to do it. His sermons became words of kindness and bites of chicken served in love. He continued to do work he loved.
I observed that his happiness involved putting his heart in gear and his hands to the task to engage in the opportunity before him.
The simplest task, the hardest work, when entered into fully can be a happy and rewarding experience.
How else could Rev. Herbert Low see handing out chicken as a promotion? He saw a new way to express his love for people and his dignity remained in tact as he put on his apron and company tie.
He walked with the same purpose in his step.
He smiled with the same lines of care in his face.
He knew nothing less than advancing in life when at 80 he took his next opportunity and saw it as a promotion. Now at his latest retirement party at 90 his work and attitude left a mark on the community. And his story had marked me one more time with life changing lessons I want to share with you.
[Tweet “The simplest task, hardest work, when entered into fully can be a happy and rewarding…”]
How to Be Happier At Work (5 Keys)
I learned 5 things watching my Dad as the Sample Man that taught me the importance of approaching all work as transformational work.
1. Do work you love, something that makes your heart sing; love your work.
If you aren’t sure you love it, look a little deeper to find the expression of your passion in the most unlikely places. View each job as an adventure to bring your very best forward.
2. See your work as a place to contribute something of value.
The smallest act of service or work provides a feeling of satisfaction. View your work as a way to provide help, render a service, or do good things. This view is important for happiness.
3. Make progress every day.
A factor in being happy at work is a feeling of progress. When you know you are moving forward, you can’t help but be happy about it. Even if it’s baby steps we all like the idea of addressing a need, providing a solution, or accomplishing a task or process. Each of these steps require getting involved in your work and not sitting on the sidelines as a spectator.
4. Don’t allow others steal your joy.
Your happiness at work can’t be dependent on other people’s opinion of you or the position you are in. You may have people ask you what are you doing in that job? Aren’t you being taking advantage of? You can’t allow someone else’s opinion of where God has placed you make you feel in a negative way about that business or opportunity.
5. Work as though you just got a promotion.
Even if you’re not in the top position, your response to the place where you are is your next promotion.
Dad was in the lowest job but ended up in the corporate newsletter as the Super Sampler. He saw an opportunity to shine at work regardless of his position. You can do the same thing by shining out where you are.
[Tweet “Success is rarely a straight line. What seems a no-where job can take you anywhere with God.”]
God is watching you and when you are promoted here or in some other job in the future, you’ll walk in promotion from what you did when it seemed no one noticed.
I remembered my fears on the day Dad retired from Chick-fil-A. I was deeply moved by the beautiful fruit of his 10 years as the Sample Man. The community came out to celebrate, share cake with Dad and the Eat More Chicken Cow. I shook my head and smiled as I remembered my apprehension about Dad taking this job in the public where he would encounter all kinds of people. I had wanted him at home where I could check on him and be sure he was safe reading a good book at 80. I’m so glad I didn’t express any of these reservations to him even though they were distressing to me at the time.
His life journey instructed me once again with how to be happy at work in every season. Dad knew something that the Gallup poll didn’t know at the time.
In Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study, 70 percent of those who participated described themselves as “disengaged” from their work. Of over 150,000 people surveyed only 30 percent admitted they honestly enjoy their job and their bosses.
Just going through the motions is an empty pursuit; you were made for more than that.
You were made for engagement and promotion in all your work.
Do you believe it?
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