home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > May 20th > It Starts Young


Mr Horst Schulze, CEO of he Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group

Mr Horst Schulze

Some of life’s greatest lessons catch you by surprise! Some of these surprises initially seem like a routine hit with a pillow which only is it later that you realise it had a non-routine brick among the feathers! One of these recent brick-in-the-pillow moments for me was listening to Horst Schulze. He is now one of the world’s most successful men and widely regarded as one of the greatest managers of people on the planet. As I listened to Horst tell his story, it dawned on me that he too had the same pathway to success and greatness that every other enduring super-high achiever possessed: he started young!

The Bible also contains the stories of some great leaders who were able to achieve the extraordinary.  Without exception, these great people also came up along the same pathway of success which required that they started very young. Joseph the Dreamer, Joshua the Commander, Jeremiah the Prophet, and Jesus the Saviour, all commenced their journey to extraordinary success when they were young. The young person who veers too long from the path of success by rebelling against God and those He has placed in authority over them is jeopardising not only their future but the positive benefit to the futures of many many others! The success that comes from helping many others brings a satisfaction that no party with booze, drugs, and sleaze could ever ever ever come close to! This is why I was so fascinated to hear Horst Schulze’s story.

For Horst it all began when his father took him to the city. It was young Horst’s first time in a city. His father showed him inside a hotel lobby. The young boy stood there amazed at the numbers and types of people in that lobby. He saw bell-boys assisting travellers with their suitcases. He saw desk-clerks pinging bells. He saw managers watching over their staff and directing traffic. And what he saw excited his young mind greatly. He now knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life!

The Tokyo Ritz Carlton

Horst could think of nothing else after he returned to his village. He was so persistent in his pleas to his parents to take him back to the city hotel that eventually his father not only relented but even decided to ask the hotel manager if he would give his pre-employment-age son a job in the hotel – without pay! The manager agreed and young Horst didn’t start a job that day, he started a career that has now led to him being the President of The Ritz-Carlton International Hotel Group. On that first day in that hotel Horst discovered that he loved helping people. Initially he found tremendous happiness from helping a weary traveller with their luggage. He then found new delights in helping people to the room. The more he discovered about the workings of a hotel, the more ways he realised he could help people. Today, he still enjoys the thrill of helping customers experience the world’s best service, but he also now enjoys helping people find a job in his hotels and helping them to do their job well and enjoy it, by learning to serve others. He says that this love of helping by serving particularly occurred when he was assigned to work in the hotel’s restaurant as a waiter.

Normally, he tells, the Matradee (restaurant manager) is the ‘star’ in a restaurant and is treated like a rock-star by his staff. But in this hotel’s restaurant, the real rock-star was the Head Chef. All the waiters and even the Matradee were in awe of him. He commanded respect. But unlike most Head Chefs, this chef had time for people. When Horst started working as a waiter in this restaurant, the Head Chef came up to him and spoke with him.

Who’s the most important person in this restaurant Horst?” he asked the awe-struck boy.

You?” timidly replied Horst.


The customer?


You are!” said the Head Chef to Horst, “You are a gentleman serving other ladies and gentlemen tonight Horst! Everything we do tonight can be made better or worse by you!

This made a great impact on Horst. How he served customers (“ladies and gentlemen”) in that restaurant was the most important thing that was happening that night! As the restaurant opened and began to fill with diners, the Head Chef made an appearance from the kitchen onto the dining room floor amidst rapturous applause from the dinner-suited diners. The Head Chef acknowledged their applause and then gave Horst a wink, as if to say, don’t let their applause for me trick you into thinking that you’re not still the most important person here tonight.

Today, there are 90 Ritz-Carlton Hotels in 29 countries around the world and Horst Schulze is the part-owner, President, and Chief Operating Officer of the world’s most prestigious Hotel chain. They are now regarded as one of the world’s leading customer service orientated businesses which they won many international awards for. Wikipedia notes

The company grew under the leadership of President and COO Horst Schulze. Schulze instituted a company-wide concentration on both the personal and the data-driven sides of service: He coined the company’s well-known customer/employee-centered motto, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen” and the set of specific service values (standards) on which The Ritz-Carlton employees base service through the present day.[17] Under his leadership the hotels earned an unprecedented two Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards[18] and grew from four to forty U.S. locations.[19]

Horst attributes his passion to serve others and to do it with excellence to his faith in Christ. After all, Jesus Christ is the Servant of all. Christ is the Ultimate Helper. To love Jesus is to serve Jesus and join with Him in serving those He wants helped. Not many followers of Christ really come to understand this. But history tells us two standout things about those who do: they all started their journey with Christ at a very young age and they all refused to be ordinary just like the crowd around them. 

If you have come to Christ after your teen years, it’s not too late for you – but it is far more difficult for you to overcome years of worldly attitudes, decades of bad habits, and the ease of just going along with the crowd. But by the grace of God, it can be done. However, if you are a young person who has come to know Christ – rather than a young person who goes to church because they are made or expected to by their parents – you probably already feel different. There will be moments of doubt to overcome. There will be times of loneliness to bridle. There will be temptations to resist. But history tells screams to you that it will be well worth it – hang in there!

When I move into the next phase of my life and begin to look to someone to take the baton from my hand, I am pretty sure it will be to someone whom God has called and equipped from a very young age. This young person may be very be alive today (they may even already be in our church). They will probably have an unusual curiosity about God and the Bible. When in church their heart probably draws them to close their eyes during the times of congregational worship and capture a vision of God in Heaven surrounded by trillions of mighty angels singing their adoration of Him. As the preacher preaches, they will find the questions they had previously asked God that week being answered – as if God was speaking directly through the preacher to them. When they receive instruction in our Kids Church they will probably gladly be memorising the assigned memory-verses of the Bible. They will probably grow up with a very keen sense of right and wrong – which could cause their sometimes-compromising parents some irritation.

In the meantime, you might be the lady or the gentleman who encourages them with an appropriate word or wink, just like the Head Chef did for Horst when he too was a very young man, because when it comes to greatness and success – it starts young.

But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.
Luke 22:26


Your Pastor,


Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Last Sunday we were treated to an exceptional feast from our young adults. I say “exceptional” because what we heard from “rebellious” Rachel last Sunday was not typical Generation Z (“Gen Z”) thinking. Gen Z’ers are generally unsure whether there are objective moral standards. Rachel wasn’t. She was adamant that the GOD who created us is the Source and Standard for determining what is right and wrong (“morality”). Gen Z’ers are generally sure that sexuality and gender is self-determined, and — in what is a contradiction to this position, but believed to be equally true (this is called “cognitive dissonance”) — even predetermined. But Rachel refuted this, declaring that the Bible which Jesus Christ declared was “Scripture” which He also declared “could not be broken” (John 10:35) was very clear that GOD created mankind biologically male and female with bodies that corresponded to the sex (“gender”) and that sexuality was designed by GOD to only be expressed within the bond of holy marriage which Jesus said could only be between a man and a woman (Matt. 19:4-6). Gen Z’ers are generally unsure if life has any point or purpose. But Rachel was certain that it did, and was equally certain that it was grounded in following Christ and obeying GOD. No wonder she described herself as rebellious – because she is rebelling against the thinking/assumptions/values of most of her Gen Z contemporaries! Lest anyone think that we don’t care about this generation, I want present several reasons why we do, and why there is a spiritual crisis among most Gen Z’ers that we should all be very, very, concerned about.


What would the earth look like if the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray was answered? What would a world where God’s will was the only will that was enacted look like? The answer is the same for both questions: it would look like Heaven. John Lennon was wrong to encourage people to imagine there is no heaven. Imagining there is no Heaven comforts no-one. Imagining there is no Heaven robs people of a vision of what our earth could be. Imagining there is no Heaven denies people of a foundational reality of our universe and thus leaves them vulnerable to other and all sorts of nonsense. No John Lennon, we must imagine what Heaven is like and pray what Jesus, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, the Chief Commander of the forces of Heaven, the One who could command 12-legions of Heaven’s mightiest angels to obliterate anyone who dared to defy Him (but chose not to), commanded us to pray — Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven! I want to challenge you to reimagine Heaven (not reinvent or reconstruct it) so that we might see what Christ wanted us to pray for and work toward being an answer to this sacred prayer.


As Jesus prepared to approach the Cross, He gathered His disciples in Jerusalem and addressed them over a sacred meal in a private, secluded, upstairs room. As He began to address them an enemy entered that room which only Jesus could see. This enemy whispered into the invisible ear of the one he had already lured into a love for money. Jesus recognised this dark voice. He had previously heard it in a wilderness exchange that He refused to succumb to. In a matter of minutes Jesus would dismiss His traitor and betrayer and talk only to His remaining terrified disciples. “You will all leave Me” He told them. Peter, who was always quick to speak, spoke up in response, “I will lay down my life for You.” Eventually he would. But not this night. This night, all but one would indeed flee from Jesus and leave Him friendless. Alone? No. Jesus said, “Yet I am not alone!” And even though you might feel alone, you too, are not. Here’s why.


I was required to write an assignment about pastoral time-management. This involved accounting for every 15-minute block of my work days over a period of a few weeks. I then had to examine the life of Christ to both observe how Jesus managed His time and what I could learn from this. This assignment was an important moment not just in my pastoral ministry but also in my life more generally as I discovered that Jesus prioritised His time around His Father’s mission for Him and how this incorporated “interruptions”. Jesus would often be on His way somewhere and someone would interrupt Him but rather than regarding this interruption as annoying set-back to His mission, He often turned it into a miraculous moment as He took time to minister to someone. And despite how interrupted Jesus was, He also prioritised time alone with His Father away from the crowds and even His disciples. These insights into our Saviour’s ability to stay focused on His mission while always treating interruptions as divine appointments for ministry transformed my attitude considerably. And this little explanation about how I now regard interruptions sets up how I handled what happened next on the day that I came in early to turn the heaters on for the MOPs ladies…


When was the last time someone said to you, “I was wrong and I am sorry”? For some people these words have never passed their lips. Some of these people may never have made a mistake, done anything wrong, or ever needlessly ever hurt someone so they may never had an occasion where they needed to say those words. But, if you have ever had someone tell you something that they knew was untrue as if it was true, or claimed that something was a fact that you later discovered was actually not a fact — and so did they — have they ever come back to you and said, “I was wrong and I am sorry”? If this has never been your experience, it’s about to be — because I’m going to say it to you. 


When the New Testament refers to “the cross of Christ” (1Cor. 1:17) it is also referring to His journey to the cross (known as His ‘passion’). This journey (Christ’s passion) began on earth with His incarnation in the womb of the virgin Mary. While the incarnation of the Word was the greatest miracle, His work on the cross was the greatest public miracle. It is also true that the death of Christ on the cross has now provided the means by which any repentant sinner can be forgiven of their sins and made right with God. But it is also true that the death of Christ on the cross means not just this, and, much more than this. This also involves understanding that not only does the New Testament use the expression the cross or the cross of Christ to include the events leading up to the cross, it also encompasses the events proceeding after the cross – including Christ’s resurrection, ascension and glorification.


Many people are attempting to create their own calm. Self-made calm is very difficult to create. The reasons for this are not only obvious but are also easily verified by everyone who has tried it. The peace and quiet sought from such a calm is too easily disrupted by the ordinary, everyday, pressures of life. Even those who seek the solace of calm by taking a vacation readily find that even there (on a beach, down a ski field, up a mountain, cruising around south Pacific islands) and then (summer, winter, autumn, spring) life’s uninvited surprises can be very disruptive. While mankind is generally unable to conjure the kind of calm that we each relish, there is a calm that comes from the knowledge that whatever may come our way there is One who knows us best and knows what’s best for each one despite our seemingly gravitational pull toward doubting it. Thus, while we long for a soul-enriching calm that dispels all of our anxieties, fears, uncertainties, and cravings for acceptance, there awaits each one of us a God-made calm that is offered freely because of the Eternal One who gave up His pleasure, comfort, riches, and divine acceptance, to make it possible when He was brutally spiked to a splintered Roman crucifix. What to many may just be a recollection of a moment which inspired much religious art was actually a Moment that defined a turning point in time itself. The time before this Moment is known as “BC” and the time after this Moment (when eternity intersected time itself) became known as “AD”. The result of this Moment was more profound than any one person has ever realised as evidenced by the tomes that are still be laboriously written elderly and learned theologians. But here is a glimpse of what they have come to realise happened as a result of this Moment and the infinite calm it now affords each of us. 


Everyone is searching for it and most people do not know what it is! Those who are searching for it do not know where to look and often look in all the wrong places. The ancient book of Ecclesiastes describes this search and how its main character looked for it vainly in religion, work, pleasure, sex, and even education. The quest for it is additionally hindered because most of those searching for it can not even describe what it looks like — yet, frustratingly, they have a sense that it is something very precious that they have now lost. This feeling is if they have a memory they can not recall. All that they are left with is this gnawing sense that it is now lost and they are now lost without it. What they are unaware of is that their thwarted search is a part of sinister scheme designed to keep them from ever recovering their lost memory and being reunited with it. Just like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth character, Gollum, their ever-present enemy has ensured that are befriended by several Gollum-like friends who continually assure them that nothing is missing, and there is no it. 

But when they sleep at night they dream about it. In their dreams they find it and their sadness turns to happiness; their loneliness turns to the warm friendship and intimate love; their sense of guilt and shame turns to the joy of being forgiven and accepted; their nagging feeling of enslavement to ignorance turns to unparalleled freedom; their awareness of being unclean gives way to an overwhelming delight of being washed and clean. But then they awake and renew their quest to find it.

“Like a lamb”

The surprising conclusion to the story of God’s plan of redemption and the climax of each of the four Gospels, is that “the Lamb has conquered” (Rev. 17:14) — not by military might, but being killed and then conquering death itself!


I’m heading into a new season. Last Sunday marked the beginning of a new season for our church. I always knew this season was coming. I had just thought that it was still a few years off. When we arrived in Legana in 1995 it was love at first sight. We had lived in a high-density part of Melbourne, just ten minutes out of the city centre, where we had been pioneering a church in a very needy part of the city. When the Lord called us to Tasmania we were initially unsure where we were going to be called. Then it became obvious that the Holy Spirit was calling us to Launceston — where we would be based in Legana (ten minutes north of the city of Launceston). Whenever anyone asked, “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you really want to live?” My answer has always been the same: “Right here.” Yet, Kim and I always knew that the day would come when we would have to transition into a new season. As I was convalescing and physically battling with what appeared to be chronic fatigue, in my daily Bible reading I read the story of the turning-point in King David’s seasons. He had once been the young “giant-killing king of Israel” who was now the sixty-year-old weary king who was about to be killed by a giant named Ishi-benob. This became the moment when four very young men stepped-up and did what their previous generation thought was impossible: they each killed a giant!