Life Lessons from the Fast Food Industry

Out of all the places I had been hoping to be working for at this point in my life, the fast food industry was not one of them. This time last year I felt as though I was finally “moving up the social ladder” in my occupational life, but due to various circumstances and necessary consideration, I left my previous job and soon found myself making ends meet at a fast food joint.

So often in life, we find ourselves in situations that we don’t want to be in, but we currently have no control over. How should we, as Christians, respond in these situations?

Here are three truths God has been teaching me about the attitude and character He requires of me:

Contentment in God’s Sovereignty

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

This verse has been one of my biggest encouragements throughout my life. God isn’t going to just put difficult situations in your life for no reason – He is not a god of chaos. Instead, in His perfect plan, God puts you where He wants you – not only for His glory, but also for our ultimate good.

Paul shares with the Philippians a couple of important truths about contentment in his letter to them:

“I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for you me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13

The first truth is that contentment is a choice. You have to choose every day and in every situation if you will live with joy despite the circumstance, or if you will allow yourself to wallow in self-pity and frustration that your life is not going the way you think it should.

The other truth is that we cannot make ourselves contented by our own strength. Contentment can only come from God. He gives us the strength to endure all things, and He will give us hearts that are satisfied if we but ask Him.

Do you truly believe that God is good, true, and sovereign? Then, in the situations in life that you cannot control, run to God, asking Him to give you a heart of contentment, and let your joy find rest in God and His promises.

Faithfulness and Integrity in Our Character

“Character is what you are in the dark when no one but God is watching.”

– Randy Alcorn

It appears this is especially evident in the fast food and retail industries. So many people in minimum-wage customer service jobs are simply there to move on, and far too often many do not care enough about their jobs to strive for excellency.

Christians are called to a higher standard.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24

The truth is, we shouldn’t just do our best when we care about the work we’re doing. We are called to be faithful in every thing we do because we ultimately seek to serve and glorify God. 

How I do my work as a Christian reflects the heart of my relationship with God. When I am faithful in the small, insignificant things, God is glorified through me – and that should be my ultimate goal.

Humility in Our Service

Far too often, we relate our sense of worth with our job. Even in introductions, our immediate question is “What do you do?” If we are not careful, we automatically place a sense of value on a person due to their occupation. In the case of the fast food, it is commonly assumed that younger adults are in this industry because they cannot find or keep a better job. We are, really, determining an individual’s worth on a job, and this was incidentally the most difficult issue I faced when I entered into fast food.

My sense of worth is not determined by my job – it is defined by my God. The Bible tells me that I am loved and valued simply because I am God’s creation and child (Psalm 139:14, Matthew 6:26). Why then do I allow myself to become distracted from what I know is true?

Pride. Holding a job in fast food is not something esteemed in our society. Somehow saying “I work fast food” just doesn’t sound as good as “I’m an engineer with this-or-that firm” or “I’m a professor at such-and-such university”. We want people to look at us and think we are great – we are more concerned about what people think about us than about what God already told us. 

When we stop listening to the lies that our worth is in our occupation, everything changes in how we relate towards it. Instead of trudging through every day with an “I don’t want to be here because I feel worthless with my job” attitude, we are now able to serve God in joyful humility despite where He places us – even in the lowliest of occupations.

Lessons Worth Learning

As difficult as it was and still is at times, I am thankful that God brought me into the fast food industry. Though I have no aspirations to settle here forever, I know that this period in my life has been critical in teaching me lessons I may not have attained (or paid attention to) elsewhere – and for that, I am grateful.

God makes no mistakes. If you are somewhere, then you are there for a reason. Will you allow yourself to grumble through the circumstances, or will you seek to learn what God would teach you?

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