How I Learned More Than Just Baking Bread at Panera.

by: Emily Becker, CDH9

A few months ago I began working as an associate at Panera Bread. I thought it would be an ideal job because the food is great, I love the atmosphere, and all the workers seemed to be so happy. It was the perfect place to work to raise support for my CDH fund. But to my dismay, it was not at all what I expected.

During my first week of training, I followed around Miss Theresa in the dining hall, learning how to take out trash, bus tables, engage with our guests and much more. I had to make sure everything was always fully stocked and clean. It didn’t seem too bad at first, until I was on my own and crowds of people flooded the dining hall with several plates of food, leaving trails of breadcrumbs behind when they left.

“Don’t forget to brew sweet tea,” my manager said. “The trash is overflowing, go change it now,” another manager would say. I felt so overwhelmed in this new place with new faces and no sense of routine. On my second day I even managed to overflow the iced tea, flooding the entire counter, and nearly ten minutes later I spilled iced coffee all down my apron. At least I had an apron.

Weeks went by as I continued to learn different areas in the café. I learned to use the register, how to open the bakery at 5am, how to take orders on drive thru. The more I learned, the more I was afraid I would forget or mess up. I almost quit. I’d rather learn a new job entirely than continue working in such an overwhelming environment where I couldn’t seem to do anything right.

But what if I did quit?

I would not have heard the encouragement of how efficiently I opened the bakery so consistently. I would not have a manager who is so flexible and understanding with my work schedule. I would not have met a fellow associate who attends the same church as me and considered applying for Crossroads Summer Camp. I would not have met the customer who is doing the World Race, which I so passionately want to do some day. And I would not have been able to empathize with the new employees who are struggling to learn what I had just learned, and have the opportunity to encourage them and say, “you can do it, you’re doing great. Don’t quit now.”

And isn’t that what so much of life is like? Life is messy. It’s not easy, and it’s a learning process. But if we can just get past the hardships that we face, and endure them with joy, we can see the other side of things. We can be encouraged by our journey while mentoring others who are currently in that stage of life we just came from.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Be encouraged friends. The next time you experience trials, just remember that the growing experience is worth it, so have faith and persevere.

About the Author:

Emily  is a recent graduate of Liberty University with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations. She is currently a communications intern at Clayton King Ministries and a participant of Crossroads Discipleship Home. You can follow her on Twitter at @embeckador to catch up on the latest news about coffee, cats and quotes from Bob Goff, or read more than 140 characters at