Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen
At first glance, the Motto of the Ritz-Carlton, “Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen” may appear overly staid and outdated, lacking refinements to make it relevant to a modern workforce. Yet packed into its formal language is a clear understanding of the relationship between, and implicit respect for, both employee and guest. Horst Schulze, co-founder and past president of The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, shares the origin of the Motto:
I started in the hotel business when I was 14 years old as a busboy. When my mother took me to the hotel to work for the first time, she said, “We could never go to this hotel. This is only for important people. Important, fine people. So you’re lucky. Behave yourself. Wash your hands.” She was a typical mother.
I went to the hotel and the general manager talked to my mother and me for 15 minutes and told us we could never be like the guests who came to this hotel. “So don’t ever get jealous. This is for Ladies and Gentlemen – very important people.”
By the time I started working in the restaurant, I knew the guests were very important. But a few months later, I realized that the maître d’ I watched every day was just as important because every guest was proud when he talked to them. Why? He was a first-class professional. He was somebody special – because of the excellence he created for guests.
So when I went to hotel school about a year and a half later, the teacher asked me to write a story describing what I felt about the business. And I wrote about the maître d’ at my hotel. It titled it, Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen. I wrote we could be excellent like he was… absolute excellence. When you walked into a room, you knew he was there. In any moment all of us who serve can be Ladies and Gentlemen, just like the guests.
Horst Schulze was one of the speakers at The Leadership Summit that 12 of us attended last week. How does this philosophy apply to the church? How would the world react if they saw the church loving and respecting each other AND loving and respecting them?
In the series I’m preaching on “Christian or Disciple?” we are asking the question “How would our world be different if we lived and loved and died like disciples” (real-time followers of Jesus)? If we treated our brothers and sisters in the church as “ladies and gentlemen”, how different would the church look? How about every single visitor who walks through the doors of Hope, what if we treated each of them as “ladies and gentlemen”? And don’t forget those outside the church (and our enemies), do we treat them as “ladies and gentlemen”?
Our world would be different, I believe, if the gospel we embrace was always delivered with love and respect. No bullhorn guy, no finger-pointing, no arm-waving condemnation, but treating each person, each encounter as a lady or gentleman.
Think about it.