Years ago, when my family and I moved to downtown San Diego to start a church, I found myself hard at work in the world of hospitality, scraping by on tips, and learning more than I could have imagined along the way. As I worked my way from busser to general manager, I learned how incredibly similar the world of ministry and the service industry are.
As a busser, I cleaned up the messes people hid in their napkins. I washed dishes, swept broken glass, and hopefully collected a few tips in the process. I served the entire restaurant, including the servers. It was like washing feet in the old days. It was back-breaking work, and thankfully, a brief stop on the journey. I did my best, worked hard, and graduated to server before I knew it!
As a server, I did a lot of waiting on people, hustling back and forth, taking orders, handling irate and impatient diners, and remembering all the special requests hollered out as I hurried past. I learned to smile when I felt sad or stressed. I learned the value of a break. I learned to care for my customers and sacrifice myself for their happiness. Serving grew my attention to detail and my overall work ethic. I waited on tables at over five restaurants, but when my manager suddenly left one day, the owner asked me to step in and fill in until they could find a replacement. Inadvertently I because that replacement.
As a manager, I began to see the big picture. I learned to care for my employees, plan ahead, run a tight ship, while also listening far better than I previously had. I counseled disgruntled employees, managed tensions, and began to understand the value of holding others accountable to their commitments. I realized that managers are not above serving, and are at their best not only while delegating, but also while picking up a broom to help with a mess. Managers lead through serving and pull a team together by their kind and humble example. And while this position was gratifying, it was not my favorite. I had made more money for less work as a server, and found myself doing many of the same jobs in my role as pastor and manager. I needed a space where I could have fun and create, and that was exactly what I found next. It was a space that fit my personality and gift set far more than I could have ever understood until I stepped into it… the position of Bartender.
As a bartender, I had finally found my sweet spot. It was a place where I could give communion and take confession. I learned just how immense the world of craft cocktails was, and the rich traditions and mythological stories behind the classics. Once I learned the basics, I realized that I could begin to rid off them and experiment in exciting new ways. I was free to create delicious concoctions like the “back of house,” while also connecting with customers like the “front of house.” It was a marriage of all the things I loved about the world of hospitality! I was able to bring joy to people one customer at a time, and connect in meaningful ways each evening. Bartending was not only a position, it became a passion!
Eventually the church grew to a place where I was needed on a more full time basis, and had to quit what had become my side passion project. But no sooner did I stop professionally bartending, than we began throwing parties, Bible studies and get togethers at our home. Inevitably, I was able to continue honing my craft as a bartender... and I threw myself into it!
For me, over the years, these two worlds have remained inseparable, and the creative outlet of bartending has continued to broaden the horizons of my future. My hope, one day soon, is to own a bar here in San Diego, where I can support the ongoing ministry of our church, and continue to pastor bi-vocationally, while creating a sort of template for other pastors and church planters on how to start economic engines for sustainable ministry, much in the tradition of the Trappist Monks.
What follows then is a sort of chronicle... a journal... both of Drink Recipe's and Practical Theology that I hope will be of some use some day to someone. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll join me on this adventure!