I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of ... (Philippians 1:3-5 TNIV).

I need to make a confession: I despise those horrible automated voice mail systems everybody seems to have. I prefer to deal with people over voice recorders and presume that anybody trying to reach the people where I work feel the same way. Where I work, though, we have one too.

Have you ever journeyed into the call processing nightmare? What a silly question! Of course you have. "If you are calling about x, press 1; if you are calling about y, press 2; and on and on and on." Some systems are easier and quicker to negotiate than others. But, I still prefer people. And I typically try to bypass the numbered options by hitting "0" in hopes of being connected to a "customer-service representative" rather than wade through the tree of options in order to leave a message.

There was once a time — believe it or not — when companies actually had warm-blooded people on their payrolls whose job it was to help customers. Now it's more likely that customer service is a department staffed by recorders rather than a person who will invest time listening and responding to your needs.

Service is an attitude, not a department.
It even happens at church. Did you hear the one about the fellow who walked into First Suburban Church wearing an expensive suit and a baseball cap? After he sat down, an usher walked up discretely, introduced himself, and said, "Pardon me, but we don't wear hats in the sanctuary." The well-dressed man nodded — and left the cap in place. A few minutes later, a deacon repeated the process — with the same outcome. Then, just before the service began, the pastor came, smiled, and shook his hand. "Sir, we are pleased to have you with us," he said. "But we respectfully ask that you remove your cap during worship."

"Of course!" he replied and took it off. "It's just that I have attended this church for three-and-a-half years and haven't met a soul. Today, I wore a dirty baseball cap and met the head usher, a deacon, and now the pastor." I hope that story is pure fiction. My fear is that it is not.

If you value human contact and personal service, take note of and appreciate it when you receive it. Don't treat someone who serves you well with indifference or arrogance. Thank the person. Tell the manager. If appropriate, tip. Service is an attitude, not a department. Everyone in an organization, family, company, or church is responsible for treating others with respect.

People sense their value when we affirm them with personal attention.