Pastor's Logos: Reverse Hospitality

“Reverse Hospitality” this is a concept that became quite apparent to me when I heard a friend of my son’s talk about an encounter with a waitress at the Café Du Monde in New Orleans. My son’s friend has Vietnamese heritage and speaks fluent Vietnamese. A waitress was taking their order and it was clear she was somewhat new to American and English, without knowing it, about every third word was Vietnamese. The friend replied in the girl’s language of origin and the waitress just lit up and relaxed.

I know we have an expectation of those who are waiters or waitresses, those who clean our hotel rooms or any or all who are in the service industry. We expect them to treat us with courtesy and respect and we are not happy when the reverse is true.  If you have ever waited tables or clerked at a store, you have probably also encountered those customers who, let’s just say, behave poorly.

I believe that we should be as courtesy and respectful to those who serve us, as we would expect from those who serve.  This is not a radical concept. Jesus tells us that the Law of God would tell us: “To love your neighbor as yourself.” Treat others as you would want to be treated. Yet, how often do we ignore the woman who cleans our hotel room? Besides the tip, how do we respond to those who serve us at a restaurant?

My son’s friend contrasted her story by telling about how some folks treated her in New Orleans, a town I love by the way.  Those folk were not respectful or considerate, yet she saw how important it was to make the waitress at the Café feel better in her service to them. I do not know the reasons for the ill treatment of my son’s friend, but she did not respond in kind.

I believe that we should treat everyone with respect and care. Whether they are the 1% or on the lower rung of the economic ladder. I believe this is a part of our following Christ. How Jesus treated women and children, the young and the old, the sick and the dying, the outcasts and sinners. This should be our model.  

My wife has waited tables in her younger days, and so have some of my children. They know what it means to serve and have compassion for those who wait upon them. To serve others is what Jesus calls us to do. For some folks, it is their jobs. These folks work hard, and at times put up with a lot. It is a good thing to show “Reserve Hospitality” and remember -don’t forget the tip!