Why It’s Always Important to Have an Empty Chair Available

Because It’s a Good Way to Prevent Loneliness

It’s been said that the church is like a football huddle. Church likes to stay in the huddle, we like the safety, we like to look good in our uniforms, we don’t like to get dirty. Football is not the huddle though, if you never break the huddle, if you never run the plays, you can never win the game.

Too often as a church, what we bring to the world is judgement rather than service, love, and the message of Christ.

We get a good example of what the church is supposed to be like in Act 2:42-47. The apostles of Christ would meet regularly and share their gifts and talent with each other. They would fellowship together, invite others and grow.

According to the Surgeon General we are currently experiencing an epidemic of loneliness. Isn’t this an understatement?

This trend has been happening for a while and was amped up with the separation that many people experienced during COVID. In this morning’s Briefing, Dr. Albert Mohler shared the importance of community and how and why it’s deteriorating.

Dr. Mohler shares many of the factors that have led to this crisis of loneliness. Christians need to understand this is predictable. What we’re looking at here is something that the government can’t solve.

As Christians we should be heartbroken about this problem.

Loneliness tells us about the human cost of disconnectedness from other human beings.

We have been made to be a part of a community. As Christians, we should be committed to seek the welfare of other human beings. We should care about people. The Surgeon General’s report should have the nation saying, “Oh, that’s not a good thing, that there’s so much loneliness.”

Christians should look at this and recognize this is a matter of concern. We would understand that as God made us as relational creatures, we cannot be healthy without some level of sustainable relationships.

Scripture tells us that man was not meant to live alone.

We know that social media and the internet have only amped up this separation and loneliness. It’s much easier to be disrespectful and say hurtful things to people when you aren’t looking them in the face.

As the church we should be opening our doors and arms to those who are lonely.

God invites everyone to the party.

Daniel Gill, a teacher in Montclair, New Jersey, shared a story of the importance of inviting everyone to the party during a lesson for Martin Luther King Dr. Day.

At 9 years old, he and his friend Archie went to a birthday party. The mother of the birthday boy opened the door and said, “I could go in, but that Archie couldn’t because there were no more chairs.” Gill said, no problem, I’ll sit on the floor. And she said to me, no, I didn’t understand. There are no more chairs,”

It was the 1950’s, and Archie was black.

Stunned, they left the party.

That’s why in his classroom Gill always keeps an empty chair, as a reminder that anyone who comes to his class filled with anticipation and eager to learn is welcome and invited to the party.

We need community and connection and that’s why we should always have an empty chair in our churches, our businesses, our homes, and our lives.

Everyone should be invited to God’s party.

Why is it That Businesses Put More Emphasis on Sells Over Service?

It Doesn’t Have to Be One or the Other…It’s Our Job as Businesses to Find Both

When thinking about business ownership or leadership, the focus often is on making a lot of money. Not that there’s anything wrong with making money. The problem is when money becomes the driving factor.

We’re all aware of those people who have been super profitable in their business. You know…those rags to riches stories where someone started out with nothing, came up with a new idea and became wealthy.

Making a lot of money is a big reason why so many people decide to start a business.

It doesn’t help that we are constantly being bombarded with some new product, formula or process that is a “shortcut to wealth”. The problem is…most of them aren’t.

This isn’t to say that they can’t or won’t work. What I’m saying is…more often than not…these things sound better than they really are.

After my wakeup call in 2012, while recovering from my accident, I began researching ways to share my construction expertise and business experience with others. I thought, I’ll help construction companies and customers through coaching and consulting.

The problem was…I knew how to run a construction company…not do virtual coaching and/or consulting.

So, I subscribed, bought, downloaded and joined multiple programs, courses, classes and trainings in an effort to turn this new idea into a business.

It didn’t go as well as was expected.

Not that I didn’t gain a lot of valuable knowledge, insight and things that I can and will use.

The problem is that it was the proverbial “getting the horse ahead of the cart” thing. We’re being bombarded through commercials, emails, social media, etc. with the next shiny new thing that is going to be the answer to all our business prayers.

All those things that I was sure were what I needed to get my next business up and going…weren’t.

This led to feeling like I was, “wandering, lost in the business dessert”.

After feeling this way for a while, I began to doubt myself. Maybe that great idea I had wasn’t so great after all. Too often this kind of thinking leads to saying to heck with it and giving up.

In our mastermind last week, Becky Warner shared that she had an aha moment when she realized that starting out trying to sell too much, too early, was a mistake. She said, we need to start with connection and community.

Connection and community…these are the same as SERVICE!

When I heard her sharing her thoughts about this, I felt relief. It was a confirmation that I wasn’t the only one feeling like this.

Starting the journey across the business dessert with unrealistic expectations leads to wandering.

The information that Becky shared with the group confirmed what I had been feeling. I needed to look back at what had worked in my construction business and that was…focus on service, not on sells.

This isn’t to say that sells don’t matter. What I am saying is…

Our businesses are more than just profit.

We have all been given skills and abilities that provide a service to others. If we figure out what that purpose is and use it, we can sell more and make more.

97% of businesses fail within 10 years. This is in large part to their focus on sells and not service. I don’t know about you, but I want to be part of the thriving 3% of businesses that succeed.

If you provide service…the sells will follow.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Know Everything About Everything?

But Since This is Impossible, I Recommend Getting the Help of a Professional

You’ve probably met people that think they know everything about everything. And there is no convincing them otherwise.

There certainly are people who know more than I do, but it’s not about knowing everything or who knows the most.

It’s about knowing what you know and using that knowledge to help others.

Last week I wrote about construction questions and answers. I used a window project as an example. You might remember that the customer had received a quote for more than $36,000 to replace thirteen windows.

After I looked at the project it was clear that only one needed replaced. I told you that I would let you know what I came up with. I gave them a proposal to replace one window and repair some of the wood finish on the rest.

My price for this was $4,771.71. That’s 86% less than the original price.

It’s less about the price and more about the work that “actually” needed to be done.

The real issue with this project like many others is in finding what the customer needs and not trying to sell them as much as you can. The focus on selling rather than service is prevalent.

This level of service requires asking questions and listening to the answers. Finding out what it is that the customer wants and needs.

This is what professionals do. Professionals help you find the solution to YOUR problem, not give you a one size fits all answer.

Because we don’t know everything about everything, means we need to find someone that knows something about something.

I’m sure I could find information about how to do brain surgery online…but if I needed brain surgery…I would find someone that has experience and specializes in that. I haven’t seen any DIY brain surgery shows yet.

Granted, if you have a construction project go bad it’s not the same as brain surgery.

My point is this. When doing a construction project, you may not even know what you don’t know. This is where the guidance of a professional comes in. This is not to say that every building contractor is a competent, skilled professional.

I’ve heard too many people complain about their bad construction experience. Every time it came down to them making decisions without due diligence.

Almost always it comes down to being sold rather than serviced.

To minimize the bad construction experience you need to be clear on what’s most important. Is it price or quality? Is it having it done fast or waiting for the skilled professional?

Most of our construction projects come from references and recommendations. The ones that don’t start with building a relationship, not selling.

If you or someone you know is considering a construction project, I would recommend spending the time and energy in finding the right professional and asking the right questions.

Is Real Customer Service a Thing of the Past?


It Doesn’t Have to Be


Customer service is a term that has been thrown around a lot. It’s often a marketing slogan rather than a core value. In this fast paced, information overloaded time that we’re living in, it’s easier now than ever to become part of the noise and make unrealistic promises.

Customer service is found in the heart, not the head.

When running a business, it’s easy for our focus to be on the bottom line rather than the customer, not that bottom line isn’t important. Bottom line is head thinking. Heart thinking is about serving the customer’s needs. It’s finding out what the customer’s goals are and helping them achieve them.

We all tend to naturally lean in one direction or the other, heart or head. It’s important for us to be clear which we are and adjust accordingly. Once we acknowledge that we can compensate accordingly.


If we’re operating our business well, both heart and head will be in sync.



The problem with heart thinking is that in an effort to help the customer achieve their dream, we over promise. We create unrealistic expectations and then when they aren’t accomplished there is disappointment. We need to be clear with customers and ourselves on what’s realistic and share that with them honestly.

Customer service is not about telling them what they want to hear. It’s about telling them the truth. It is hard to tell someone things that they don’t want to hear, but that’s better than telling them a lie. This kind of honesty is hard for a people pleaser like me. By wanting to help everybody with everything, ultimately, I do the customer and myself both a disservice.

This past week I encountered both sides of the customer service experience.

First – Our air conditioner at home quit one night this past week. The next morning, I made a few calls to HVAC contractors that I use as subs. The only one that answered his phone said that he was busy until later in the day. Then in a few minutes he called back and said that he could be out within the hour. Once there, he diagnosed the problem, it was going to require a new part that he could order and have the next day. Or if I would go to Wichita and get the part he would come back out and put it on. I did and he did, by 1:00 that afternoon the AC was working. Thanks Jim Finney with Finney Heating & Air for great customer service.

Second – I was meeting with a customer about a project that was going to include some painting. I have done a lot of work with this customer over the years and several of them included painting. While talking about the painting the customer told me they didn’t want “that painter” to do the work. When I asked why, they told me about some issues on some separate painting projects they had used him on. These consisted of using lower quality paint than they thought they were getting, scheduling delays, and lying. They had been working with him on a parent’s home painting project that the start date had drug out over two years. They even said they would have been okay with the timetable if the contractor had just been upfront and honest with them.



We need to start by being honest with ourselves. Figure out who we are and who our customer should be. We can’t’ be everything to everybody and we shouldn’t try.