This summer has been a mix of running both Sund’s Lodge and Bethany North, the fishing lodge and the church. We’re back in Canada this week running the small fishing lodge that has been in my family for almost 30 years. The lodge sits on an island in the Inside Passage and we host fishing guests from around North America that come to British Columbia mostly to haul in trophy salmon or halibut. This has been good work for the years I’ve been doing it, working with my hands, serving customers, and leading the small team of co-workers.
Whenever I tell people I pastor a church, the conversation instantly gets a bit interesting. I get a strange look coupled with disbelief. But tell them I run a fishing lodge? For many it’s an instantaneous admission to a secret club of respect. If baffled that I am a pastor, people are equally impressed that I have made a living by going fishing. The reality is that both jobs are grounded in the same principles of service. Serving others is what I attempt to do as a church leader, and serving others is what I do every day we’re operating the fishing business. Serving others is hard work but it is the best way to operate.
I was raised on the simple notion that when you work, work hard. This is my Norwegian lineage. We work hard. When in Canada I rise at 3:15 am and often work till past 10am. This isn’t a sustainable model but there is lots of daylight and lots to do in a seasonal fishing business. Work hard. The harder struggle is taking time off and learning to not always work hard- but that is a different post for a different day. J
At the fishing lodge, we have a staff of 13 people. When managing a staff of 13 up here, I try and lead by example. My father who remains one of the hardest workers I know set that example. Over the years we’ve learned in the hospitality business that the quality of your relationships with your coworkers often directly affects the bottom line. The culture really is one in the same with the product. No matter what you do, in many ways we’re all in the hospitality business. We’re all in the people business. As a leader in your job, be good to your people. Treat others better than yourself. Help out. Lend a hand.
Not long ago I hosted a beach fire night for the employees of the Lodge. Though we had worked for a week and everyone was fried, I decided to cook for the staff and treat them to a great night. People were blown away when the owner of the business spent a few hours on his night off to cook for them. I did a crab boil with potatoes and corn, Bavarian sausages and 10 huge Dungeness crab, all boiled in saltwater and beer. We poured out the water and emptied the pot onto the picnic table and along with some beer and garlic bread, had a west coast feast. And people talked. And people laughed. And good will flowed. It was a great meal.
The next evening when one of the employees was in the midst of his own 18-hour day, I noticed him dragging in energy a bit. I spent half an hour clearing dishes, cleaning tables, and helping with his work. He was quiet for a while and then a question: “what kind of church do you go to?” he asked. My service with him had built a camaraderie and a delightful conversation about faith ensued. All because I served with him. I cooked for him. I cared for him.
“How about you,” I asked. “Do you believe in God?” And then he spoke of his upbringing, about religious upbringing devoid of real meaning, and his own break with faith at 15. He’s now an atheist and we had a good chat about this.
My point? The conversation doesn’t happen without the service. Model Jesus. Chanel Jesus. Want to be great? SERVE. SUBMIT. Make others better than yourself. Paul talks about it here, and said these principles of service will help our marriages and our homes and the church too. Serve…and the world will listen. Don’t worry when you don’t get this perfect, most of us never do either. But it is a worthy calling and one that should be aimed for. Great leadership really is born from humble service.