Giving thanks, especially for washing feet is definitely not very popular—not in Jesus day and not in ours.
When I became a member of the staff of a large Evangelical Church in the Seattle area, one of the pastors I was to work with explained the 80/20 principle to me. “Basically,” he said. “Eighty percent of the work of the church is done by Twenty percent of the church membership.”
Bummer! Oh, and thanks for the pep talk!
It was going to be one of my responsibilities to staff all the church nurseries and preschool Sunday school rooms with volunteers.
Have you ever worked in a nursery of a large church? It’s changing a mountain poopy diapers, and rocking cranky babies, for the longest hour and a half of your life. It’s pure foot-washing!
I learned a lot in that job about servanthood, both from what I was lucky enough to observe and also from the assignments I was able to participate in. I was convinced “angels” walked the halls of that Early Childhood wing every single week. Some of the most beautiful people it has ever been my privilege to serve with, both women and pre-teen girls, who showed up week after week to serve some of the most helpless and needy people in our congregation. Little people, who couldn’t say, “Thank you for the excellent and loving care.”
Then there were the parents who could have expressed their thanks but rarely did. One parent stands out in my memory.
I was subbing for one of my preschool teachers who called in sick that Sunday morning when a mom came up to me at the end of the class to pick up her three-year-old. She began lambasting me about “how I didn’t deserve” to have the job I had been given on staff. I was just “a newcomer” to the church after all, and she felt there were “…so many other women who were better qualified and more deserving of the job.” certainly more than little ‘ole me! In her opinion,”I didn’t merit a job with so much prestige, and who did I think I was, anyway?”
I just smiled and let her have her say but I kept wondering,
“Should I tell her about how I have to work late into the night each Saturday to get all the rooms ready for Sunday morning? Should I tell her I’m the one that cleans the bathrooms and scrubs the toilets, because the janitorial staff is overworked and exhausted, and they too, have to work late into the night each Saturday prepping the building? Should I tell her I’m the one who takes any kid that won’t stop crying, calms, and comforts them by walking them through the building, explaining where mom and dad are, and that they haven’t been abandoned forever to these strangers? Should I tell her about all the Sunday night nurseries I take because no one is willing to work them? Perhaps I should keep track of all the poopy diapers I had personally changed that week; the rooms I painted; the hours of sewing; the extra cleaning?” You know, all that really prestigious stuff.
No, maybe not. I’ll just let her hang onto her illusions about prestige a little while longer. Instead, I prayed, “LORD, please show this dear lady that in Your Kingdom—the higher you go the lower you must stoop—even if it means patiently taking clueless-guff from a thankless mom.”
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. 1 Thess. 5:18 MSG