I am reminded of a story of a young man who had a job cleaning and scrubbing floors after hours at a large company. Every day he came to work with a smile on his face. He did the job that most people would consider beneath them without complaint or grumbling. His supervisor hated the fact that he was so joyful while he worked. He would assign him the toughest jobs, the dirtiest floors or the most difficult clean-ups. Still, without hesitation the young man would do as he was directed, smiling the whole time.
One day the supervisor asked him why he was always happy. His response was “I do everything as if God had asked me to do it”. The supervisor became bewildered and angry. He told the young man that God didn’t care about cleaning floors or washing windows. Instead, he said, “God must hate you to provide this dirty job for you to do”. The young man just shrugged and said “God provides this job so that I can provide for my family. So if this is what I must do, I do it for God”.
Years passed and the supervisor continued to treat the young man with disdain and frustration. The young man continued to smile and treat his supervisor with respect, never complaining, never backing down from the tasks and always smiling while he worked. One day the supervisor came to work looking like he hadn’t slept in weeks. The young man could tell something was wrong and asked his supervisor if he was ok. The supervisor, feeling the worst he had ever felt, opened up to the young man. Confessing that things had not been going well with his family. His wife was prepared to leave him and take his children. He claimed he had no support or anyone who understood what he was going through. The young man knelt down next to his supervisor and simply asked if he could pray for him. Reluctantly the supervisor said “sure” and the young man closed his eyes and prayed for the supervisor’s situation.
Later down the road the supervisor was promoted to a new position and on his last day he gave a note to the young man. He told him in the note that when they had first met, he hated how happy the young man was every day. When he found out he was a Christian, he hated him even more. Yet, when things were going bad in his life, the young man was the only person that showed any care or compassion for him.
Now, you probably expected this story to turn into an amazing testimony where the supervisor fell on his knees, confessed his sins and believed on Jesus. What a great story that would have been, and it would probably have made you feel pretty good and motivated while reading it. But the real testimony in this story isn’t that a man was saved (though that would have been wonderful), it’s that a man was faithful with the Five Feet that God had given him.
We are conditioned by church culture to go into every situation expecting radical mission work or incredibly Godly transformations. We hope to experience something that we can share with our friends and family that will knock their socks off and cause them to break down in tears or shout to God for joy. Of course there isn’t anything wrong with those types of stories and testimonies and we can be reminded that we serve an amazing God who does miraculous things. However, I think the danger is that when we are always looking for those types of circumstances, we miss out on the miracles in the ordinary.
When we are always looking at where we “should be” we forget that we have something to do right where we are. We have bosses and coworkers that God has given to us to befriend and serve. To show compassion and the love of God without any strings attached. We are commanded by the Lord to do everything we do for Him. Just as there is a purpose for one to do dirty work at a church, there are positions for us to do the same at our work places.
Not only are we called to be in the world, as in working in places that don’t have ministry in their titles, but we are called to be ambassadors of Christ to all the places we go. Your work place doesn’t have to be a church or a mission in order for you to do mission work. Not only does God place us in places for the purpose of others but often times God places us in places for our own benefit. Perhaps it is for your own growth that you have that boss that treats you like the supervisor treated that young man. Perhaps your coworkers are stressing you out that you might be the one to spend time with God more. Maybe you have asked God to give you patience? Do you think He just grants that to you, or perhaps he gives you situations to exercise it?
The main point is that we have a tendency to sit back and wait or hope for the perfect ministry opportunity to fall into our laps when we completely miss the ministry around us. We dream of sharing the gospel to disenfranchised people in Africa but ignore the guy or gal in the cubicle next to us. We want to dig wells in Ethiopia but won’t help the new guy move into the building we work at. The longer we wait for these extravagant ministry opportunities to come our way, we miss the important opportunities that are Five Feet in front of us.