Posted by: Brian Musser | August 17, 2012

I Don’t Want To be God’s Janitor

On Fridays I will regularly post about Work-Ship.  Work-Ship is my theological attempt to combine what we do as workers with what we do as worshipers.  I write on this topic primarily in hopes to better prepare Drexel students to incorporate their faith into their work but I have come to the conclusion that it is also needed for the larger Christian community.  You can find several of my other posts on this topic here on this site under the category of Work-Ship or more extensively at my other blog-site Work-Ship specifically designated for this topic.

My last post on the the idea of Work-Ship (God the Ultimate Maintenance Man) dealt with the sustaining nature of God.  I realize that this is the part of God’s work that I am least interested in.  Out of all the ways God works and out of all the ways humanity can work I find maintenance the least satisfying.  That may have been evident in the lack of quality of my last post.  From then until now I have intentionally wrestled with this idea of maintenance.  On paper I truly believe this is an important part of how God works and of who God is.  It is also an important piece of who God made us to be.  I believe this I just don’t get very excited about it.

There is nothing heroic about maintaining something.  Janitors don’t get medals.  Janitors barely get noticed except for when something goes wrong.  A janitor might get a small plaque after 30 years of faithful service but that is not a guarantee.  We don’t like maintenance jobs because there is nothing immediately heroic about them.  They don’t make good stories.  Very few want to answer the question, “So Dad, what did you do today?” with, “Son, you know what?  I did today the same exact thing I did yesterday and the same thing I do everyday and it was awesome!” It is easier to find meaning in the novel than in the monotonous.

Now it is personal confession time.  Although, I have had many employment opportunities to dwell in the world of maintenance, I personally try to avoid the monotony.  I can’t get enthused about pulling weeds out of a garden that will just return next week.  I have trouble cleaning things that are just going to get dirty again.  My car suffers from routine neglect more than it enjoys regular maintenance.  Sometimes, I even question the necessity of daily hygiene processes.  ( I hear an imaginary “EEEEEWWWW!” from the two people who will actually read this far.)  For those of you who have been affected in one way or another by my lack of interest in repetitive tasks, I sincerely apologize.  Maintenance is not a strength of mine.  It would be so much easier if you didn’t have to repeat the same thing so many times and so regularly and so often.

I sincerely hope I am not the only one with maintenance issues.  If it is only me please consider this post just a therapy session and move on to doing something different with your life.  But I’m pretty sure I am not alone.  For evidence to support my theory of others joining me and my maintenance issues, I will reference an online game.  I play an online game called World of Tanks (or WOT for short).  That feels like another confession.  Online gaming is an interesting world in which to witness human behavior.  I play WOT only for the sole purpose of researching human behavior.  (You believe that, right?)  The basic premise of the game is that teams of 15 tanks fight each other.  You win by either destroying all of the other team’s tanks or by capturing their base.  (Disclaimer:  the game is quite addictive so don’t attempt playing unless you have a substantial amount of free time available to waste.)  What I have noticed is the game is infested with those of us who want to be a hero.  Many of us will try to win the game all by ourselves.  We want to be the one who comes up with the genius plan or to engage the other team by surprise and destroy them quickly.  We all think about how can I destroy as many as I can as quickly as I can.  All of us want to do something great.  We don’t realize that all we need to be is slightly better than average.  We all rush off to our own personal greatness and victory with no one interested in staying back and guarding the base or supporting their team.  Guarding and supporting are not things that are immediately heroic.  And anything that is not immediately heroic is something that I’m not really interested in doing.

As we work through this theological understanding of work based on God’s work, I realize that this willingness to maintain is a considerable difference between God and myself.  As we saw in God the Ultimate Maintenance Man, God has revealed Himself to us as a sustainer.  God intimately maintains all aspects of His creation.  It is part of His perfect wisdom for the running of the universe and part of his perfect love for us and all that He has made.  A quick discussion question:  Is it easier for you to maintain something you have created of something someone else has created?  If interested please leave your answer in the comment section below.

I was in New Orleans in March 2006.  It was only nine months after Katrina had devastated the city.  We were doing some basic volunteer relief work cleaning up the houses that had been flooded during the disaster.  I remember this one older lady.  She was dressed in bright red.  She approached us as we were on a break.  She wanted to share some of her experience of how the tragedy affected her life.  What she shared put the whole trip in perspective.  It was a poem.  I don’t remember the title of the poem exactly and haven’t been able to find it since.  The poem asked one question.  What would happen if God took the day off?  The irony of the story is that this lady had intended to read the poem in church before the storm ever hit New Orleans but was prevented from doing so.  She looked around at her city and wrestled with the question what would life be like if God wasn’t maintaining it.

Lamentations 3:22 – 24 (HCSB)

Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in Him.

Often our witness of suffering causes us to question God’s loving sustenance, but I want you to remember that Lamentations was written by Jeremiah as he watched his beloved city of Jerusalem be destroyed.  Times of suffering may be times that we can truly see the blessed daily provision God provides.  We only notice the janitor when something goes wrong.  Do we only notice God’s maintenance when times are hard?  Although we spend great amounts of time discussion God’s creative work and even more talking about His redemptive work through Christ, we often neglect to think about God’s sustaining work.  As we do consider God’s sustaining work we may also develop a deeper appreciation for jobs that are  primarily maintenance in nature and/or those parts of every job that force us to maintain something.  As we work to maintain the world around us may we realize that we are working like God.  May that give us great meaning in our work and produce worship of God through us for all to see.

Next time I will explore  in greater detail the effect sin has had on this area maintenance in both our work and God’s.



  1. Reblogged this on Work-Ship.

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