Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
Much ink was spilled in April 2017 over United Airlines’ terrible mistreatment of a paying passenger when he was injured while being dragged from a plane to make room for some airline employees. The company was not prepared for the tremendous outpouring of negative sentiment in the media and over social networks.
This particular public relations debacle was a timely reminder that, in this day of the ubiquitous smartphone video, it is difficult to sweep negative incidents under the rug. It is also a reminder that our employees are essentially full-time ambassadors for our companies (whether or not this responsibility is specified in their job description).
This incident brought to mind a similar personal experience with a different outcome. Several years ago, I was in the UK on business with two partners. When we arrived at Heathrow to return to Canada, the agent for the airline informed us that they had changed the equipment. As a result, they could no longer accommodate us in business class.
Before we had a chance to react to this unexpected change, a very well dressed, ultra-polite gentleman materialized out of nowhere to deal with our dilemma. He represented the airline so well that, despite the fact he ultimately failed to fix our problem, we felt good about the way we were treated.
A few months later, deja vu – same airport, same airline, same downgrade! The same “ambassador” angel materialized once again and took ownership of the problem. This time, he was successful and I flew back to Toronto on business class. My experience with this customer service ambassador very positively affected my attitude toward the airline for many years.
Ambassadors can have a significant impact for those they represent.
For those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus, we are ambassadors representing Him in the marketplace, in our families and in life generally. Specifically, Paul the apostle says,“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20). This means that, in all our dealings with the circumstances of life, we are called to keep our ambassadorial assignment top of mind.
Personally speaking, this mandate is sometimes very challenging. As I write this, I am flying from Geneva to Nice. Earlier today, I experienced a significant challenge trying to return our rental car to the Geneva Airport. I am quite certain I did not respond to my circumstances as Jesus would have. Mary bore the brunt of my anxious behaviour with amazing grace. In my opinion, she is one of the best ambassadors for Jesus on planet earth!
Anyhow, I recovered, asked for forgiveness and rejoiced in the fact that, because of what Jesus accomplished when He went to the cross, I am not condemned for my many failings! My goal is to be the best ambassador for Jesus I can be.
Are you an ambassador for Jesus? If not, would you like to join one of our professional peer groups to explore the implications?
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.