Midway into our vacation last week, I interrupted all the fun-making and wallet-breaking for a brief educational interlude. We were halfway around the “world” in Disney’s Epcot when boring old teacher-mom suggested that we go in and watch a history bit in the American building.
Three of us fell asleep and the other two went on and giggled about how boring and sleepy their parents were during this presentation. Nevertheless, some good lessons were being taught by, as my oldest calls them, “really creepy animatronics.”
At the conclusion of my well-needed nap, I did hear one idea that is worth talking about.
Mark Twain’s creepy robot reminded Ben Franklin’s creepy robot that no matter how strong and brave, there are some perils that have never been survived. He named them success, comfort, leisure, and plenty. “No dynamic people have ever survived the plight of those,” he said.
It reminded me of a proverb which has been a cornerstone in my life. Proverbs 24:33-34 says this, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”
This verse is my Jiminy Cricket verse. Whether it be work or exercise or merely rising early enough to pray before daily pandamonium sets in, my ever-faithful conscience has brought this verse to mind for the better part of the past twenty years.
This may sound crazy, but after seeing how the employees at Disney work to courteously serve hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis – and being one of them – I came back with a thankful, ready to serve heart.
These people are truly amazing. They serve thousands of people every single day with a kind, positive, fun attitude, all while doing the very same menial tasks over and over and over again.
There was a waiter in one of our character breakfasts who was filling glasses with orange juice. The second time he came around, my husband refused more juice, but the man actually poured more anyway. He realized his mistake and began to apologize saying, “I pour juice in my sleep. I have nightmares about empty cups!”
We spent the last day of our vacation in the pool where we found some empty cups of our own. We participated in a game whose object was to fill a water jug before the other team filled their jug by passing cups of full water down relay team lines. Our team lost all three games because those at the end of line kept forgetting to send the empty cups back down for us to fill again. Yes, those who thought they had the most important job (dumping the water into the jug) were forgetting about the rest of the team and keeping us from being able to complete our jobs. At one point the leader tried to encourage our team by saying, “Don’t forget to send the empty cups back! Every empty cup is an opportunity to be filled!”
With all this talk about empty cups, I got to thinking about what Mark Twain said in the program. What if there weren’t any cups to fill? What if all the cups were always full? The waiter would be out of a job and there would be no game to play at the pool. More importantly, there would be no need to serve and no team to be a part of.
Success. Comfort. Leisure. Plenty. These are full cups. The only way to empty them is to experience failure; discomfort; hard work; want.
We dynamic American people are so very full of everything – especially and including ourselves. A Latino woman stood behind us in line to see Tinker Bell. A Spanish-speaking visitor came up and began asking questions to the English-speaking people in front of us. The language barrier was too much and even after repeating their questions several times, it was obvious they had no answers. Finally, the lady behind us began to speak to them in Spanish. Afterward, the Spanish-speaking people were very thankful and the Latino woman remarked to us how “we” (herself included) do not thank others enough. She talked about how we just expect to be served and catered to and we are not as appreciative as they were to her. That’s what years of success, comfort, leisure, and plenty do to a people. Continuing this way is sure to lead to our own demise.
Still, I came home with a song in my heart. I was thoroughly inspired by the excellence in work ethic and positive attitude of the employees at Disney World. That’s the kind of worker I want to be – not for the Magic Kingdom, but for God’s Kingdom. That’s an example I can follow. I want to keep my cup full enough to serve others and empty enough to afford others an opportunity to fill it. The only way to accomplish that is to pour myself out on a daily basis. The small, repetitive, unnoticed tasks are the most important!
Mickey is a mouse, after all. Mickey is a rodent! If you find yourself asking how one of the smallest creatures with one of the worst reputations became the greatest attraction in the entire known world, watch the people who work for him. They are willing to be uncomfortable, put out, hard-pressed, and unbelievably kind for his good name.
Take note, Christians. Take note.