Being the Best at Being the Least

Being the Best at Being the Least
Becoming the Janitors of the World

Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
January 10th, 2016
Image courtesy of start08 at

Listen to full sermon here.

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Even my original Title shows how hard it is to be willing to be last.  But this is what we are taught in Luke 9.

Luke 9:21- 26, 46-50
21 But He strictly warned and instructed them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.”
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 
 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. 25 What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels…

46 Then an argument started among them about who would be the greatest of them. 47 But Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their hearts, took a little child and had him stand next to Him. 48 He told them, “Whoever welcomes[k] this little child in My name welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me welcomes Him who sent Me. For whoever is least among you—this one is great.”

Most all of us have heard this lesson before, and so instead of spending our time, setting up this point, I thought we might take a look at what this should look like in our lives.

The image that Jesus uses in this scripture to teach us humility is a child.  And what we need to keep in mind is that children back then were looked at differently than children today.  Children back then, would have been the lowest on the totem pole and would have had no business talking to or hanging out with someone like Jesus or the disciples.  but of course what Jesus was saying is that we need to be humble enough to welcome even a child in order to welcome him.  

In my opinion, one of the jobs that requires the most humility is being a janitor.  To be a janitor, you have to be willing to do what no one else will do.  And so what I propose for us to be able to live out the humility Jesus is asking us to live, is for us to become the janitors of the world.

Now why would we want to become the Janitors of the world?

I was talking to a teacher the other day, and she said, that the first people you want to be friends with at a school are the janitors because they have the keys to every room, they can help you with your mess, they know where everything is, and they know more about what is going on in a school than the administrators do.  

And when we think of janitors in this way, it starts to make a little more sense as to why we would want to be the janitors of the world.  Because it means people will let us into their lives when they wont let anyone else in and they will come to us for help.  And this of course means that eventually we will have the opportunity to share the gospel with them or show them the love of God.

But there is a downside to being a janitor.  People look at janitors differently, they don't hang out with them, often times they are mistreated and overlooked, they don't win awards for what they do, and they often go unappreciated.  But the world STILL NEEDS janitors.

This also true for Christians.  People tend to look at us differently, they don't always want to hang out with us (at least not the Christian side of us), we sometimes get mistreated, we don't win awards for praying for or helping people, and what we do for other people, often goes unnapreciated...but the world STILL NEEDS our prayers and our help.

So, as Christians, we must be prepared to go into those situations that other's aren't willing to touch.

But really it's more than just being prepared...We should really be drawn to those situations.  

I was watching a reality TV show the other day and in the show, the camera's were following some cops around New Orleans, when all of a sudden the cops heard gunshots.  Without hesitation or fear the cops immediately turn and ran towards the gunshots (when everyone else would have run the other direction).  And the reason they did this is because it has become their instinct (or their second nature) to be drawn to situations where others would run.

And it should be in our instinct (or second nature) to be drawn to the messy situations of people's lives so that we can help them clean up and get back on track.  

But what if our instinct is to run the other way?

The truth is, before cops were cops, their instinct would have been to run in the opposite direction too, but with training and practice, their instinct slowly changed and now they are compelled to go help when someone is in trouble.

And if we practice and read our scriptures, then our instinct can slowly change and then we can be compelled to go help someone in their time of need.  But here is the thing, the first few times we do, we aren't going to be any good at it.  It will take some time and effort for your instinct to change, but if you work hard at making yourself do it, it ultimately will change your heart.

What messes do you need to go help clean up?

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