#223: Let Us Stop and Remember Whose We Are

A Memorial Day Tribute

Today is Memorial Day. It is a day when tens of thousands of small American flags mark the final resting place of soldiers who paid the ultimate price; who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Remember the sacrifice

Memorial Day began in 1868 as a day to remember the fallen in America’s civil war. But since then, Memorial Day expanded as a day to remember and honor all those who served and died defending our country over the years.

But a day of remembrance is not unique around the world. Many nations set aside one day to remember those who served and fell. The list includes England, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada just to name a few.

Neither is a day of remembrance a modern institution. There are several examples of memorials established in the Bible.

  • Rainbow. God established the rainbow as a sign of a covenant with Noah that He would not flood the earth again (Genesis 9:8-17).
  • Passover. The final plague visited upon the Egyptians brought the angel of death to every home in the land except for those with a mark of blood on the doorposts. Upon seeing the blood on the doorpost, the angel passed over the house. Passover feasts today are celebrations in remembrance of this event (Exodus 12, 13).
  • Crossing the Jordan. The Lord caused the water of the Jordan River to stop so the Israelites could pass over with the Ark of the Covenant into the Promised Land. A member of each tribe brought a stone out of the river and stacked on the far side of the river as a memorial to future generations of what the Lord had done that day (Joshua 3).
  • Communion. Paul passed on Jesus’ teaching at the Last Supper as he explained both the purpose and procedure of celebrating communion. It is a memorial done in remembrance of Jesus’ life and death on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:17-26).

Each of these Biblical examples is a reminder to future generations of God’s love and provision for His people.

Memorial Day is a reminder of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.

The Greatest Expression of Love is Sacrifice

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, explained some might sacrifice their lives for a just man or a good man.

“For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die” (Romans 5:7).

But, said Paul, God proves His love for us and has sacrificed even more for us.

“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus said the greatest expression of love is in the willingness to lay down one’s own life for his friends.

“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13).

Jesus said that knowing the fate of his followers; that many of them would lay down their lives because of their love for Him and one another.

Jesus said that knowing his own fate on the cross loomed ever closer. Yet, He went to the cross. He sacrificed His life for us that those who believe in Him might have eternal life.

Let Us Remember

This Memorial Day let us remember the importance of sacrifice.

First, it is fitting and proper that we remember and honor all those who came before us and laid down their lives defending our freedom. And in the words of Abraham Lincoln let us, “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Let us never forget the valiant sacrifice of all those who gave the last full measure of devotion to this country that we might live free.

Second, remember that God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us. There is no greater love and no greater sacrifice than this.

In remembering Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, let us remember whose we are!

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As always, questions and comments are welcome.

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Category: Personal Development | Humility

#133: What Oops! Do Starbucks and Haggen Have in Common?

What Oops! do Starbucks and Haggen Food & Pharmacy have in common? Both companies have recently been in the news for making some very poor decisions that became very public.

Man Wheelchair

Starbucks

Rob Rowen’s son-in-law has muscular dystrophy and is confined to a motorized wheelchair. So you can understand why he is sensitive about able bodied folks using the one handicapped parking place in front of the local Starbucks store in South Tampa, Florida.

Over a period of time, Rob let a few of these folks who violated the handicapped parking law know that they should move their cars and leave the space open for those who really need it. One customer took offense to being called out for breaking the law and complained to the Starbucks store manager. The store manager sent Rob a letter banning him from the store because “he disrupted the business and harassed customers.”

The local Starbucks district manager backed up the store manager’s ban against Rob. A few days later Rob got a letter from Starbucks Corporate banning him from all Starbucks worldwide for life.

Haggen Food & Pharmacy

Haggen Food & Pharmacy is a little chain of grocery stores headquartered in Washington. When Vons/Safeway & Albertsons merged in 2014 the FTC required them to sell off some stores and little Haggen bought 146 of them.

One of the first post-acquisition actions by Haggen was to trim costs. They accomplished that by laying off 700 employees in the acquired stores. Among those who were laid off were 19 developmentally disabled clerks in five California stores. The laid-off employees were given a week’s notice and had to sign a non-compete agreement that bars them from working for a Vons, Safeway, or Albertsons for one-year.

When questioned about the layoffs Haggen’s Pacific Southwest CEO Bill Shaner said,

“To ensure we’re operating as efficiently as possible, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily cut back on staffing at our stores, with specific reductions varying by store. We value the contributions these employees have made and are committed to treating all employees respectfully and professionally through this transition.”

Personally, I can think of better ways to demonstrate to employees and the community that you value the contributions of your employees than to terminate their employment.

Oops!

The result in both cases was easy to predict. The news about Starbucks and Haggen went viral on social media.

In Starbuck’s case, Mr. Rowen was contacted by and met with Starbuck’s VP & General Manager Pablo Arizmendi-Kalb. Mr. Kalb admitted that Starbucks had made an error in banning Mr. Rowen for life. Starbucks lifted the global lifetime ban against Mr. Rowen and said they would try to educate local store staff.

Who knows what Mr. Kalb means by “educate the staff”, but the word “local” certainly implies that Starbucks Corporate does not see this as a big enough issue to provide store training beyond this local store.

The Haggen case strikes a nerve with me because our son, Justin, is developmentally disabled. Do you want to get mauled by a bear? Stand between a momma bear and her cub. No difference here. My wife shops at a local Ralphs and looks for the check-stand where “Becky” is working. Becky is developmentally disabled. When the local Ralphs closed they didn’t layoff Becky they transferred her to another store in the neighborhood.

What the folks at Haggen may have overlooked is that in addition to providing employment to the disabled, they are providing a service to the community. It is a service that means a lot to the customers they hope will be loyal shoppers.

A Lack of Judgement

Both cases illustrate a lack of judgment.

The Starbucks store manager could certainly have been more sensitive to the handicapped parking situation, and to Mr. Rowen’s concerns. The Starbucks district manager backed up his store manager but escalated the situation to corporate instead of de-escalating the situation. Starbucks Corporate escalated again.

Did anyone stop to examine the situation to see if just maybe there was a better way to handle this?

Solomon writes, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). That Hebrew word for “gentle answer” is used to describe someone with a tender heart, someone who is soothing.

Had the Starbucks folks stopped to consider Mr. Rowen’s position, they might have come up with a solution that was “soothing” for everyone.

The folks at Haggen may have indeed needed to cut costs. That happens frequently in mergers and acquisitions. But really, is laying off 19 developmentally disabled part-time workers going to help your bottom line? Or maybe, just maybe, there was a better way to meet the profit goals.

Perhaps a forward thinking executive might have realized that building relationships with the community they were hoping to serve would be a good way to build sales.

Solomon writes, “If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure” (Proverbs 29:14). In other words, leaders who show respect and caring for the less fortunate are strong, effective leaders. Sadly, both the Starbucks and Haggen executives missed an opportunity to show leadership and provide an example to their employees and the communities they serve.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What do you think? Were either Starbucks or Haggen right in what they did? If not, what do you think they should have done in these situations?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Humility

 

 

#129: What have you done for one of the least of these?

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me, said, Jesus, as he was teaching the disciples (Matthew 25:40).

Donald Gould, Least

A sign that I am a follower of Christ is seen in my willingness to help my fellow man.

Jesus spoke a similar message in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In this parable a priest and a Levite passed by an injured man, and purposely avoided helping him by walking on the far side of the road. Then along came a Samaritan man who stopped and cared for the injured man. This, said Jesus, is the how the disciples should behave.

In today’s world, the homeless people living on the streets are certainly “among the least of these.” And I must admit on more than one occasion I have been like the priest or Levite, purposely avoiding the homeless so I won’t have to stop to help them.

I was convicted of my pious attitude when I saw the YouTube video of the homeless man playing the piano on the street in Sarasota Florida. What I saw was a skinny, dirty, long-haired scruffy looking man.

But then I learned his story. His name is Donald Gould and he is 51-years old. Donald didn’t always live on the streets. He served his country honorably as a U.S. Marine, went to college, and dreamed of teaching music the rest of his life.

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