Cleaning up Vomit

When I was teaching public school, there was a little boy in my class who developed a food allergy. Every day for a week, he came back from lunch and vomited all over the floor and table. And every day for a week, the janitor came to my room to clean up. She did it efficiently, and with a good attitude. I understood why she and her team had earned awards as the best janitorial team in our (very large) school district.

One day, as she was cleaning the floor, another little student asked her, “Why do you like cleaning up throw-up?”



She answered, “I don’t like cleaning up throw-up. But whatever the Lord gives you to do, you do it as best you can.”


At that moment, I knew I was in the presence of true greatness.


I was a young, white, educated, professional, and I was miserable as I adjusted to my new job. She was a middle-aged, black, elementary school janitor, and she was full of joy in spite of her job.


I knew who the world would see as more successful. I also knew who God would see as more successful.


In Mark 10, James and John ask Jesus to give them the seats right next to Him in heaven. The other disciples get mad (presumably, because they want those seats, too). Jesus tells them: “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45, ESV, emphasis added)


If sitting close to Jesus is truly a sign of greatness in heaven, I know at least one elementary school janitor who is going to sit closer to Jesus than I am.


It really doesn’t matter what the Lord has given you to do. It matters that He has given it. And that should motivate us to do it with joy.


Maybe you’re single with a PhD. Maybe you’re a retired grandmother who finds yourself unexpectedly raising grandkids. Maybe you’re a women’s ministry leader. Maybe you’re a high school student. A businesswoman. A homemaker. The wife of an unbeliever.


Whatever your specific calling, I can guarantee you have another, greater calling: to do what the Lord gives you to do, and to do it as an act of service. Because in service, there is true greatness.



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