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When Serving Jesus Looks Like Work For Everyone Else

October 17, 2014

window cleaning

 Photo Credit: Isaac Stone

My arms hurt from reaching waaayyyy up to the very top of the windows.

“What the heck,” I thought to myself, “Why would people press their faces up against the glass? Or anoint the windows with oil? Do they have any idea how much work this makes for the people who follow along behind them and have to clean up after them?”


I sighed and kept at this impossible task.   Spray the window, wipe it down, spray it again, rub at the oil spot that much harder…

Finally, it was clean.

I moved on to the next window.

More smudges.

More teeny, oily, crosses clouding the view of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Mount of Olives.

window smudge 3

Instead of the spectacular vista of Jerusalem spread out underneath me like a tiny diorama of ancient faithfulness, the mess left behind by the well-intentioned added another task to this To Do list.

It was hard to remember these were well-intentioned people who, carried away with the brilliance of praying over this beautiful, living city, forgot that when they went on to their next mountain top…

The next person wouldn’t be able to clearly see out that window and someone, me this time, would have to clean up (again) before clear vision could be restored for the folks following along.

sunset jerusalem

 Sunset over Jerusalem

al aqsa

Al Aqsa mosque, Dome of the rock,  Old City, Jerusalem Photo Credit: Isaac Stone –

Funny how people are like that.


We can be so consumed with an ideal of what ministry to God and others looks like that taking the time to consider how the expression of our faith can actually create work for someone else doesn’t even blip on our radar.

Even those loudly declaring a need for servants in the church are rarely among those who stay late and clean up, come early and set up, empty trash, wipe counters…

Or look beyond the parameters of their Spiritual Duty to seek to leave the place, the people, the situation better than when they found it.

There’s this verse that doesn’t seem to resonate well in the current environment of Ambition, Success, and Spiritual Empowering loudly preached from the pulpits and bookstores, blogs and podcasts.  I keep remembering it while we are looking for service opportunities here and wherever we find ourselves.

The echoes of a youth pastor, all those years ago in a leadership training class, consistently reminding us:

“Never ask someone to do a job you are unwilling to do yourself.”

I know that the man who said those words believed them and lived by them.  His example has been a standard I keep in mind when I have been given opportunities to lead and to serve.

five shekels

Finding a five shekel coin on the streets of the Old City, Jerusalem Photo Credit: Isaac Stone –

Yet, even more clearly and loudly than the words of Pastor Barrans, all those years ago, are the gentle words of the Master.  The One who could have come with all the glitz and glory the Creator was due but instead washed feet, held children, hugged lepers, healed children, raised the dead, forgave the adulteress…

…Yeshua called them and said, “You know that among the Goyim (nations), those who are supposed to rule them become tyrants, and their superiors become dictators.  Among you, it must not be like that. On the contrary, whoever among you wants to be a leader must become your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave! (emphasis mine)  Matthew 20:25-27

What do you suppose it does to the testimony of faith when we leave a trail of trash and mess behind us as we minister?

Physical trash.  Emotional trash. Spiritual trash.   Do you leave a wide wake of chaos while you pray for a rich harvest?

Do you struggle with the entitlement of a Great Spiritual Gift while showing through life and actions you believe it’s up to the little people to follow behind and clean up after the Splendid Ministry God gave you?

crosses at garden tomb

Crosses in the wall at The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem

Are you consistently, if not constantly, delegating unlovely work so you can show up later and later while insuring others can have the “blessing of serving”?  I’ve been on the receiving end of that particular gift.  It’s not as much fun as it sounds.

Or, maybe, just maybe, can we finally call it quits with this twisted love affair with the spotlight and put the effort toward being willing to lead by serving and not despise humble work?

It seems that the willingness to serve others instead of yourself is the kind of greatness that matters in a place where streets are golden and a “Well done, good and faithful servant” can echo through eternity.

dillon bible

Dillon reading Ezekiel 44 while looking across the cemetery toward the Eastern Gate, Jerusalem Photo Credit: Isaac Stone –


  • Brilliant.

    • Heidi Stone

      I would have settled for an atta girl. 🙂