Work your way down in the organization

be humble

With Zach (at right)

Ha! The last three years have been the humility lab class for me. I went from being general pastor of four churches and principal and founder of a school to… nothing. Criminals forced us to flee the mission field and return to the home church.

cleaning ministry

With my aunt on the East Coast

At the home church, I longed to serve and I yearned to make a difference, to help stoke the fires of revival. But so many missteps of mine only stoked the fires of resentment. I was asked to give up ministry and look for a secular job. Ouch!

It seemed like every ministry position was already filled by someone who was more qualified than myself. I tried Sunday school. I tried teaching in the regular school. I tried publicity. I thought my experience could be a boon for the church.

After floundering for a couple years, I finally found a ministry where I was heartily welcomed, where I didn’t step on any toes, where I could satisfy my hearts longing to simply be useful. I don’t want to be important but to do important work.

It was not my first choice of ministry. It was cleaning.


With my family at Niagara Falls

I kept secretly admiring the main cleaning guy, who unpaid got up early and stayed up late assuring that schoolkids and church members alike could enjoy spotless environs. Zach Scribner had a vision for  cleaning and saving the church money. I had zero vision for cleaning.

But I wanted to help where I could make an impact. Zach never got a day to rest in — until now. He is overjoyed to finally get a day off. And that makes me happy.

Chatting, a brother said, “Working your way up in an organization always works.” And that’s when it hit me: I haven’t worked my way up, I’ve worked my way down. Serendipitously, I fell into Mark 10:44: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. Aim not to be chief but to serve.

Kneeling before a toilet bowl, I reflected that I was doing it for my God. I thought of many who would despise such labor, some of whom also kneel before a toilet bowl, not to clean, but to throw up… for their god, alcohol.

In any other organization, expect to work your way up. In the church, look to work your way down.

40 responses to “Work your way down in the organization

  1. I had a friend in college who went to Africa for a summer mission trip and ended up doing mostly housework and cleaning while she was there. She was doing laundry for the pastor one day, and found herself angrily praying, “God, I wanted to do missions, not be a servant!” She realized immediately that she was meant to be a servant in the way God wanted, not the way she wanted. She did housework for this pastor and his wife and the local organization they worked with without complaint for the rest of the summer. There are so many different ways for us to serve. Thanks for sharing this great post!

  2. Wow, what a lesson on humility…wow, thanks for sharing this.

  3. Blessings on you as you learn this vital lesson!

  4. Thanks for sharing. God will always use any means to take us to wherever He want us to be in life. It might not be easy, it might through trials, it might not be the way we want it, it might not be how we want it but He is always faithful to His promises and will always want the best for us.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I am searching right now, to find the “where” God wants me to be.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I truly enjoy this blog! very positive!

  7. Less of mr and more of you Lord.

  8. I can relate to this, Chris. Often I’ve started a ministry, only to have to let go and give the baton to someone else. It always hurts…always! Hang in there brother. God’s not finished with us yet. The best is yet to come.
    Thanks for sharing from your honest heart!

  9. Your story sounds so familiar to my own. Recently I made a decision to spend this past summer cleaning houses, because as I work on this current ministry in spirituality I have no income yet I needed to do something to help myself pay some financial obligations. I got so much more out of it. God spoke to me in various ways even as I woke every morning barely able to walk. He gave me strength.

  10. Washing feet comes in many forms. Circumstances don’t matter when our joy comes from abiding in Him. Bless you for this blog. I’ll be following to offer support and prayer.

  11. I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can find more information about it at If the link doesn’t work simply go to the Awards page on Drawing From The Well and scroll down. Congratulations!

  12. Hi, I just nominated you for a Liebster Award. You can find the details at You have a great blog and have definitely earned it.

  13. I really liked this post! I have been thinking about servant-hood a lot lately – wondering how someone like me (in a wheelchair…) can serve others.

  14. I echo what Bill (Unshakable Hope) says. It is a great post. I think that it’s difficult for ministers/pastors to do ‘lesser’ jobs because we’re so used to ‘being in charge’. When we’re faced with a change in position in the church it is difficult because we can (and have) done so much more. This is a lesson that God is teaching me right now as well. I appreciate your honesty and transparency. In His Service, Jeff

  15. Good observation,

    My ways are not your ways! How slow we are to learn what Christ expects. How quick we are to follow the herd, and try, try, and try again to be something, and achieve something.

    Well done.

  16. “I thought of many who would despise such labor, some of whom also kneel before a toilet bowl, not to clean, but to throw up… for their god, alcohol.”

    Sheer brilliance…and soooooooo true!!

  17. God has a way of using setbacks to help us get perspective. It is encouraging to hear others who are happy quietly serving where they are needed, rather than feeling the need to serve in a role that suits our own image of where we think we should be. It isn’t quite washing feet, but the sentiment is the same!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s