Jim was a maintenance worker at a regional county park featuring a small lake in a woodland setting. Being a fisherman, Jim loved that job, but one day the county government reassigned him to janitorial duty at a middle school some distance away. After seeking the Lord in prayer, Jim resolved that if his new assignment was to clean toilets, then he’d clean them for the glory of Jesus. You might imagine what he stepped into when he began working at the school.
The other janitors hated their jobs, didn’t like the teachers (nor did the teachers like them), and the janitors really didn’t like students. They did their work half-heartedly, doing just enough to get to the next smoke break where they’d go outside and complain about everyone and everything. They’d then take their misery home to share with their families. Things weren’t much better with the teachers and administrative staff either. In short, the workplace was full of disgruntled, unmotivated staff, rampant cynicism, and was a totally negative, toxic environment.
Right away, Jim just set about worshipping Jesus with his work. Sometimes this meant quietly singing a worship song to himself as he worked, finding things in his life for which to be grateful, or just thinking about all Jesus had done for him. At other times, Jim’s attitude of worship was simply reflected in being pleasant to people, and genuinely caring about them.
Of course, these attitudes also meant the toilets were actually kept clean—at least, cleaner than they had been, perhaps in a very long time. Since Jim’s a Jesus follower, he carries the Holy Spirit around with him, and the fruit of the Spirit—peace, righteousness, and joy—just started leaking out of him. Now Jim wasn’t passing out tracts, holding Bible studies, or forcing Jesus into conversations; he certainly wasn’t calling out people’s sins. Jim is “in the world, not of the world,” so he also wasn’t complaining, grumbling, talking badly about people, or skimping on his duties… he simply worshipped Jesus while he worked.
As a result, the whole atmosphere in his workplace shifted, slowly but surely. Before long people were asking him why he was so happy. Jim didn’t give them a sermon, he just replied with something simple like: “Because Jesus loves me, man, so today’s gonna be a good day.” This continued, and following Jim’s lead, people started treating each other a little better, complained a little less, and began laughing a little more.
Before long, a few people approached Jim to ask him deeper questions. One guy had some marital issues so he approached Jim for advice. Jim was able to respond with some practical biblical wisdom, for which the guy would never have opened a Bible to find. Another guy was in some trouble and feeling conviction in his soul; he didn’t know he was feeling the Holy Spirit, but Jim did, and Jim was able to share the gospel with a man who would never have stepped into a church to hear it.
In the three short months Jim was at the school, he totally shifted the atmosphere. Ultimately, Jim had the opportunity to explicitly share his faith with a dozen pre-believers, and have much deeper conversations with several of them around biblical principles applied to their specific challenges. He caused the place to look a little more like the Kingdom of Heaven and a little less like the wrong one.
Later, Jim would discover the little taste of God’s goodness he had introduced to the school had ultimately brought conviction and a sense of their need for God to many more people—even those with whom Jim had never explicitly discussed his faith. Jim’s is a textbook example of Kingdom influence, and my friend Jim brought more of it into his area of influence as a janitor than most CEOs and high-powered executives I know.
Chapter 2: This Works for Normal People, At Work As In Heaven