Faith In Action

by Trish Overby

Last year I heard an interview with the founder of Kids Company, Camila Batmangelidjh, talking about her work with children and adolescents in London. Her description of 'deprived' and 'in trouble' kids made me think about my life and my reaction to its complexities. She described these little ones as emotionally cold and with shutdown feelings to protect themselves in their homes and social situations. "Emotional numbness becomes a useful tool in protecting against the pain of trauma," Camila said. She went on to describe the lack of resources or support in the social care industry for a very difficult and demanding job. She mentioned the civil servants in charge of the government's social work departments who count the numbers going through the social work system. They don't assess the actual successful vs. unsuccessful results of those numbers and how those are best achieved.

What struck me the most in the interview was how easy it was for her fellow professionals to see 'clients' as something besides human beings. These patients or clients were consumers who bought or were given (for free under NHS) their services. It appears the relationship between the client and the professional was dehumanized because of a chosen attitude. This attitude came from the importance placed on management of time and results. This made me think of how I approach and treat my customers and prospects through my business. Could I see them as a 'number', i.e. just another appointment for that day to count up, or another sale for my sales week, or another phone call to make? Was I coldly going through my job without feeling or caring for these people and the businesses they have? Was I not really aware of or caring for who I was speaking or writing to?

Results are King
In any service industry, results are KING. Most of us have our sales targets, time managed to the millisecond and results analyzed in achievement of our work goals. Nothing the matter with this, is there? It's working efficiently and intelligently. But as I mentioned above, I do have to realize that even with all these so called 'pressures', I am dealing with customers or prospects who don't always fit into my time schedule. They need me to see them as people I would like to know. This might mean getting to know about their business and how it works, what sells for them or what problems they might have with staff. Things like this aren't in any manual. And they aren't always easy to do since some people find it difficult to talk about these things. Yet don't we all want to feel appreciated and wanted (loved) in some small way?

This is the same whether we are 8 or 35 years old. What Camila Batmangelidjh realized was that there are no 'quick fixes' for the children who are referred to Kids Company. There are no short cuts to alter children's motivation and behaviour. Just as sometimes there isn't any 'quick fix' to my sales. For instance, a prospect based in Bedford who I approached back in August 2004, just placed an order this past month (April 2007). I had contacted him by phone and visits for these past 2 1/2 years. I got to know about his business, how he bought his own shop, and what look he was going for in the shop to set it apart from the seven other jewellers in town. We were on friendly terms even if I would arrive without an appointment! He even told me how he appreciated my persistence.

Human Touch
Of course, not all shopkeepers are like this. But the beauty of the service industry is the variety of people we work with. The skill of the service industry is how we adapt to all varieties of characters, locations and business constraints. I can honestly say I haven't 'cracked' them all yet. But the more I see each store owner as a person and someone I would like to get to know, rather than another sales target, the more I see the value of that relationship. And this shows itself in how I respond to questions, ask questions and evaluate how best to serve my customers or prospects. In today's fast paced, 'instantaneous results' global world, sometimes just the downright 'human touch' will get the job done. It might take a long term commitment to the job or person, as well as time and energy, but it has its benefits for all parties involved. In a similar way, faith is like this. You make a commitment to a person, for instance, in God, and act accordingly. That means you know God has arranged every little detail of your life and knows what situations you will face every day. He knows the relationships you find difficult and those that are enjoyable. He wants you to live life to the full and enjoy it. It doesn't mean difficult times aren't going to come your way. But you don't have to go through them alone or think that they are random chance experiences. Your heavenly Father is there right beside you to guide you and keep you safe. That's what some people call the 'leap of faith'. Some consider it a step outside of what we are comfortable with or outside what we are in control of (or appear to be in control of!). But as we mentioned above, the most important thing is acknowledging that God is a person who cares for you in every detail of your life.

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