Real-life Transformational Encounters
By Ed Delph
March 28, 2022
Last week, we started a two-part series on the difference between a transaction and a transformation. Author Laurie Beth in her book, Teach Your Team to Fish, says the following about this subject.
“Transactions are lateral exchanges between people - be it goods or services. I give you this in exchange for that. Transactions are obvious and lateral, commonplace, and easy to spot. In contrast, transformations are invisible, uplifting, transcendent experiences that involve a fundamental shift or change. Transactions are necessary but not necessarily transformational.”
My definition of a transformation is a transaction that, when completed, one of the parties walks away four stories higher than when they entered the transaction.
Allow me to share two real-life examples of transformational encounters. The first example is from a pastor friend of mine here in Phoenix, Mark Buckley. He recently wrote about this transformational experience which happened years ago.
“I was privileged to host radio programs for thirty years and TV programs for ten years in California and Arizona. I hosted guests that included pastors, authors, athletes, business leaders, and politicians. Many of them were well-known and had engaging personalities. However, as I think back on those interviews, one of them stands out more than the others.
"Gary Bender was a sports broadcaster who did radio and TV play-by-play for baseball, football, and basketball on Fox, CBS, ABC, and TNT. I had never heard of Gary when he arrived at our radio studio for our program. As we faced each other across the studio desk, Gary began to ask me questions about my background and our church. He was interested in me and our ministry. He continued to ask me questions when we were on the air. In thirty years of interviews, nobody else ever showed interest in me that way.
"Gary was used to being on nationwide television. Our program was on KXEG, a Christian radio station in Phoenix. Gary didn't need the exposure, he wasn't promoting anything, but he treated our time together like it was genuinely important. He didn't make an impression on me because of his insights, eloquence, or stature. Our encounter was significant because he understood the impact caring could have on another person.
The best way to have other people care about you is for you to care about them. We can make a powerful impression on others when they realize we are genuinely interested in them. The secret sauce of building strong relationships is contained in the command of Jesus, "Love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12). As He draws us, He drew them into a relationship He initiated with His love."
Here's some transformational analysis about this example. All humans have questions about their humanity. "Am I valued?" "Am I loved?" "Do I matter?" Do you like me?" "Can you help me?" "Will you add value to my life?" “Can I trust you?” Gary Bender met a felt need in Pastor Mark and that same need is in all of us.
When I read Mark's account of Gary Bender, it didn't surprise me. I met Gary a few months ago at a unity meeting, and he engaged me the same way he did with Mark. So evidentially, everybody is somebody to Gary. Trust me, valuing others will be uphill all the way, but well worth it.
Next, let's explore a perfect example of a company that promises transformation but delivers a transaction. Sound familiar? Laurie Beth Jones explains.
“I sat recently with one of the vice-presidents of a multimillion-dollar resort hotel. We discussed the challenges facing this entity, which had come to a foreign country and hired five thousand people on the island before they had opened the doors. Despite spending nearly one billion dollars on developing the resort, the owners were now facing multiple complaints from hostile and influential customers who had come to what was billed as a five-star resort and were experiencing one-star service instead.
“I read the mission statement, which was vague and uninspiring. However, I felt there was hope because one of their core intentions was to ‘blow the customer away.’ As we continued to talk, the frustrated vice-president sighed and said, ‘We want everyone to have a five-star experience. I guess we must clearly define what that experience looks like.’
“As we finished our lunch, we ordered espresso for dessert. The waitress returned after a few moments and said, 'I'm sorry, but there is no espresso available today. Our machine is broken.' Having just walked past a functioning espresso machine in the coffee bar upstairs, I smiled and asked, ‘Could you maybe get some from upstairs?’ She said, 'I hadn't thought of that,' Within minutes, she returned with two perfect cups of espresso, delivered from less than twenty yards away. The vice-president sighed as she stirred her coffee. ‘See what I mean?’ she said, ‘We have a long way to go in training our staff.’
This expresso crisis was a perfect example of the difference between training someone in dealing with transactions versus transformation. This waitress clearly felt her job was to deliver items ordered from the menu. If the items were unavailable, the transaction was still complete. The customers either got what they wanted, or they didn’t. She had still done her job.
If, however, the waitress had understood that her job was to "blow the customer away" with unparalleled service, she would have taken the initiative to know all the resources at her disposal. Then she would have moved heaven and earth to deliver not merely a cup of coffee, but a transformed customer.
I would say the extra mile is a vast unpopulated wasteland, wouldn’t you? So my transformational analysis for us about this example is that we need to be intentional in valuing people. Ask yourself, “How will what I do right now add value to others?”
The truth is God values me. God values you. God values people you don’t know. God values people you don’t like. So don't be like the person who says, "There are seven billion people on earth, and I like six of you."
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com