Toys Were Us (Read: John 10:1-21)

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

When working retail, you encounter thieves on a daily basis.

I used to be a manager at Toys R Us (or Toys Were Us as I am keen on calling it these days) and one of my duties was to do everything I could to ensure theft was prevented.

On the busiest days, when the store is crowded with people, it seemed an impossible task. With so many customers coming and going, it’s hard to tell if people were walking out with items they actually paid for.

I remember, there was a tactic that shoplifters tended to use where they would begin gathering items and then quietly setting them next to the front door of the store. They’d usually work in pairs. The man would grab a R/C helicopter and set it next to the glass doors of our store, just out of sight of our cash registers. Then, the woman would grab a Barbie doll and place it in the same place. Over time, the pile would grow bigger and bigger. Finally, they would casually wander near the entrance of the store and, when your back was turned, they would gather up and many toys in their arms as they could from their stockpile and rush out of the store.

If you aren’t diligent you could miss it. There were a couple of times that some of our employees would be on their phone or distracted by a task and the pile by the door would begin.

“What’s that?” I would ask pointing to the mound of toys stacked against the wall.

The employee would look to where I gestured and then shrug their shoulders and return to their phone.

They hadn’t known what the shoplifters were doing and couldn’t care less when it was pointed out to them.

When I saw a stockpile forming I would find the individuals who had started it. Usually, they were clutching toys in the back of the store like squirrels collecting acorns.

“Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I moved your pile behind the register so people wouldn’t take the toys you’re planning on purchasing. If you have any more toys you’d like to add you can bring them to me and I’d love to check you out when you’re finished.”

They would look at me, flabbergasted, mumble their thanks, and then sneak out of the store empty-handed.

Anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:1-2).

There is a thief who is attempting to steal the sheep from the Kingdom. The Thief can enter into our lives unnoticed and begin to stack things by our front door. A temptation here. A habit there. A white lie here. A bad influence there.

And sometimes we are like the employees I oversaw. We are either distracted or simply don’t care. We think that the stack by our door is innocent or “no big deal”.

But we must be diligent. We have to be on our toes. We have to be aware that we all have weaknesses and pitfalls. We have temptations and desires. It’s important that we understand the difference between the voice of the stranger and the voice of the shepherd.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

When working retail, you encounter thieves on a daily basis.

I used to be a manager at Toys R Us (or Toys Were Us as I am keen on calling it these days) and one of my duties was to do everything I could to ensure theft was prevented.

On the busiest days, when the store is crowded with people, it seemed an impossible task. With so many customers coming and going, it’s hard to tell if people were walking out with items they actually paid for.

I remember, there was a tactic that shoplifters tended to use where they would begin gathering items and then quietly setting them next to the front door of the store. They’d usually work in pairs. The man would grab a R/C helicopter and set it next to the glass doors of our store, just out of sight of our cash registers. Then, the woman would grab a Barbie doll and place it in the same place. Over time, the pile would grow bigger and bigger. Finally, they would casually wander near the entrance of the store and, when your back was turned, they would gather up and many toys in their arms as they could from their stockpile and rush out of the store.

If you aren’t diligent you could miss it. There were a couple of times that some of our employees would be on their phone or distracted by a task and the pile by the door would begin.

“What’s that?” I would ask pointing to the mound of toys stacked against the wall.

The employee would look to where I gestured and then shrug their shoulders and return to their phone.

They hadn’t known what the shoplifters were doing and couldn’t care less when it was pointed out to them.

When I saw a stockpile forming I would find the individuals who had started it. Usually, they were clutching toys in the back of the store like squirrels collecting acorns.

“Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I moved your pile behind the register so people wouldn’t take the toys you’re planning on purchasing. If you have any more toys you’d like to add you can bring them to me and I’d love to check you out when you’re finished.”

They would look at me, flabbergasted, mumble their thanks, and then sneak out of the store empty-handed.

Anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:1-2).

There is a thief who is attempting to steal the sheep from the Kingdom. The Thief can enter into our lives unnoticed and begin to stack things by our front door. A temptation here. A habit there. A white lie here. A bad influence there.

And sometimes we are like the employees I oversaw. We are either distracted or simply don’t care. We think that the stack by our door is innocent or “no big deal”.

But we must be diligent. We have to be on our toes. We have to be aware that we all have weaknesses and pitfalls. We have temptations and desires. It’s important that we understand the difference between the voice of the stranger and the voice of the shepherd.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

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