Thursday, September 19, 2013

More on the changes

When I changed the title of the blog yesterday, I also changed the description. The previous description mentioned what I did as a bookseller; I still wanted to include what I'm doing now, but wasn't quite sure how to say it.

Right now, I do freelance copyediting and proofreading of ancient Near Eastern and biblical studies monographs. I also edited a couple of DMin dissertations and I did some stuff for Baker for the Cook/Holmstedt grammar. Those all bring in money to live on, but most of my time right now is tied up in the cabins, which gives us a place to live, but no cash. So, how do I describe that?

I do a lot of different things: maintenance, repairs, painting (although Max does most of that), lawn mowing, laundry, housekeeping, and on and on it goes. But, the one thing that none of these really mention is that I clean toilets. Somebody has to, you know! Hi, I'm James and I clean toilets for a living!

But, if the creator can become human and stoop to washing the feet of his betrayer and denier, surely I can clean toilets and not let it define who I am. That shouldn't define who I am anymore than, "Hi, I'm James and I just copyedited a Dead Sea Scrolls Hebrew Grammar." Which one sounds better to our ears? But neither of them should define us. In God's eyes, the toilet cleaning is just as important as the book I'm editing. Both are what he has called me to do right now. Both should be done with rejoicing and to his praise and glory.

But I still would rather say, "Hi, I'm James and I copyedit academic books...!" Although, the "Hi, I'm James and I clean toilets" does have a nice shock value to it...


That's my 2 cents! said...

Many times I've started ministry work with cleaning toilets, clearing trash, stacking chairs, and washing dishes. I've never minded or felt that work was less important to God. Those things are really the only kinds of things I can say, "God this I can do for you, from my simple little self, and I know it is worthless, and I am a worthless servant."

God has laid on us all the wealth he has: Jesus. He took all my worthlessness and put it on Jesus. He took all of Jesus worth and placed it on me.

I start with my worthlessness, and he moves me into ministry work I am utterly incapable of doing. I start where I know, but God leads me to his work, that only he can accomplish, and no one can ever say it is me.

I hold toilet cleaners in the highest esteem, for we understand that we have reached the highest service we may do for God. Anything beyond toilets is God's achievement, not mine. But I'll tell you a little secret...I ask for God's grace to clean toilets these days, and I'm a better toilet bowl cleaner!

I just need more grace.

jps said...


I remember you telling us that; good stuff. Thanks for sharing.