The Parable of the Janitor or Job Versus Mission
Last week one of our neighbors was admitted to the hospital. Late in the week I happened to be in the neighborhood, and had some free time, so I stopped in to visit. During our time together, our neighbor decided that he wanted to take a walk through the hallways, and so we went on a journey. As we were walking, we came upon a janitor who was attempting to clean the floors of the hallway. Since he was lugging cleaning supplies, we stopped to let him pass… that is when something pretty cool happened.
The janitor, instead of thanking us and walking down the hallway stopped, looked at my neighbor, and declared “No, sir, after you! You need to keep walking so that you can get healthy and get out of here!”
Read that again and let it soak in…
The mission of the hospital is to make people well. Within the organization of the hospital, there are many people who have many different jobs. There are doctors, nurses, janitors, receptionists, lawyers, accountants, chefs, and so on. Each of those jobs have certain tasks assigned to them, things that have to be done in order for the worker to have successfully completed them. While each of these tasks, each of these jobs, are important to the overall operation of the hospital, none of these jobs are more important than the mission: making people well.
Our janitor friend understood that it didn’t matter how well he cleaned the hallway floors if people weren’t getting healthy. Understanding this, he encouraged my friend to walk… to strengthen his body, in order to get well sooner. He knew that the floors could wait three minutes, because his real job, helping people to get well, needed to get done.
Those of us in ministry leadership can learn a lot from our janitor friend… our mission is to make disciples who make disciples. Expense reports need to be done, the bathrooms need to be cleaned, sermons need to be prepared, and board meetings need to be convened… but none of it matters if we aren’t making disciples who make disciples.
What is more important than making disciples who make disciples in YOUR church?