When our small mission team arrived in New Orleans, we planned to roof houses for a week. We had packed hammers, squares and other tools, but when we arrived, we were asked to hang insulation instead.
The experience took me back to a time several years earlier, when I started my first dream job – working at McDonald’s. I was 16. With great excitement, I put on my new uniform and my mom drove me to my first shift. Little did I know that much of what I would learn over the next 7½ years would be utilized as I served on mission teams.
Like flexibility. Some days I would be at the grill all day. Others, I worked the counter for a few hours and then switched to fries. Still other days I would learn a new skill. One night, ten minutes before closing time, four buses pulled into the parking lot. Even when you’re tired from a long day, put a smile on your face and serve with graciousness.
That particular lesson has certainly come in handy on mission trips. In New Orleans, we quickly shifted gears and accepted our new assignment graciously. We gathered utility knives, staplers, work gloves and masks and started to work. And we gave individual assignments to each team member so we could operate more efficiently. Some cut the lengths of insulation while others stuffed it in the walls and ceiling before stapling it into place. Others made sure the area was clean of debris. When someone needed a break from their assignment, we rotated.
Being flexible often means relying on your team, because you realize pretty quickly you can’t do everything on your own. My first assignment at McDonald’s was toasting and dressing Big Mac buns. It was fairly simple, but had to be done in exactly 2 minutes and 30 seconds. On command from the manager, place the buns in the toaster. When the buzzer sounded, remove the buns and put on the right amount of sauce, onions, lettuce, cheese, and pickles. When I fell behind, the whole grill team (and our customers) suffered.
Similarly, as we installed insulation that week in New Orleans, we knew we had to finish our task, because a drywall team was coming in behind us.
Each time I go anywhere on mission, I try to remember these hard-earned lessons from my time at the Golden Arches. When I clock in, I want to be ready to do whatever task I am asked to do that day, and play my part on the team.