Earlier this year, our Pastoral Staff headed south for our Pastor’s Advance. During our first evening, we stopped by Sweet Mama’s Restaurant. Our youth Pastor, Rob Ball, was in charge of finding us unique local restaurants for the evening meals. We took one look at the outside of Sweet Mamas and one look at Rob. We collectively thought the same thing: Fail. Oh how wrong we were.
Inside the restaurant, we met Sweet Mama. She is the magic behind the broken-down curtain. For the next 2 hours she fed us, chatted with us, and (little did she know) taught us some lessons about running a church. A few days later we made a list of the things that Sweet Mama taught us.
Among other things, she reminded us to . . .
- Focus on people. Mama was about two things: people and food – in that order.
- Have fun. She made us laugh. She took her cooking seriously and herself not so. At one point Mama pulled up a chair and shot the breeze with the boys. She even nicknamed one of us “Pookie” and the other “The Silence.” She gave another a kiss on the cheek. (Hey, what happens at Mamas stays at Mamas.)
- Open up. Mama was an open book. Ask a question, get the real answer. Note: be careful what you ask for.
- Trust strangers. Mama was sorry she had run out of her speciality: corn casserole. When she found our we were in town all week for meetings, she INSISTED that we come back in the morning to get a special made pan of corn casserole. When I returned the next day I found that Mama had come in early that day to make our dish. She handed me a pan and said “please return this pan to me. It is expensive.”
- Exceeded expectation. When she realized she was out of one entree we wanted, it was free appetizers and desserts for the crew.
- Be who you are. Mama was not trying to be anybody else. She knew who she was and who she was not. When we placed our order she collected our menus and said, “This will take some time. I make everything from scratch. You ain’t at Carrabba’s.”
Whatever your business or ministry, Sweet Mama could teach you a thing or two. And next time you find yourself in Naples, Florida, stop by and tell Mama that the “Preacha Boys” sent ya. You won’t be sorry.
What leadership lessons have you learned in unlikely places? (Comment below.)