>Walking the Word


Marketplace, Papeete, Tahiti, 2004
Serving One Master
Several years ago I operated a business that manufactured and sold pet products. Our marketing plan was simple: We toured the county fairs in the summer months to introduce customers to our products and our mail-order service.
I learned that fair vendors share a culture that I’d never contemplated before I became one.  One key rule of conduct is this: Prospective customers pass by only once. If a vendor is chatting with another vendor, and a potential customer appears, the visiting vendor is expected to cease the conversation and leave the vendor to attend to customers.
Another important guideline is this: Weekend traffic can make up for poor sales during the week. So on Saturdays and Sundays, the “go quiet and disappear if customers appear” rule is critical.
One Saturday morning I was chatting with my vendor friend Jonathan. It was early in the day. Fair guests had not yet made their way to our building, which was some distance from the entrance to the fairgrounds. Jonathan is a godly man; I had a question about scripture that I’d posed to him.
Jonathan pulled out his bible and set it on his display counter, thumbing through it to find a reference he wanted to show me. As he searched, the noise level in our hangarlike building began to rise.

The fair visitors had arrived.

Jonathan continued looking through his bible. Customers were passing by. Other staff were at work in my booth, but Jonathan was alone. A handful of people stopped in front of Jonathan’s display, obviously interested in the special sponges he sells.
“Jonathan,” I said, “I’ll come back later. Customers are here.”
He shook his head at me. “If they want to see my demonstration they can wait,” he said. “This is more important.”
13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Luke 16:13 (NASB)