The Great Mess Makers

When was the last time you picked up after somebody? (Moms: you don’t need to answer that). For everyone else, was it a co-worker? A visitor? A church volunteer who didn’t finish the job?

I’ve found there is a huge difference between making messes and leaving messes.

The creative process demands that beauty emerge from chaos. Painters make messes, as do sculptors, graphic artists, novelists, builders, and scientists. Even God’s best work comes in the most chaotic moments, from creating the earth to fixing a life-problem.

But if those very same messes are not picked up by their creators, they are left for someone else to clean up.

The same messes that were evidence of genius can become the epitome of disgrace. When we are so consistently negligent that we fail to pick up after ourselves, whether in life or in projects, we not only insult those who follow us but we devalue the creations we set out to make.

It’s even more fascinating to realize the converse is true. And God is the prime example.

Not only did he create mankind, and pick up his mess, but when his creation made a mess of everything, he went so far as to pick up our mess, too.

When we stretch ourselves to pick up messes that aren’t even our own, we actually partake in an unseen glory, often noted only by heaven. It credits you for the good deed done, but also of being worthy of the created entity. Whatever credit a creator loses in their failure to pick up after themselves, the cleaner obtains in participation.

Jesus said in Luke 16:12 that if we’re faithful with that which is another man’s, we’ll be entrusted with that which is our own. Long before I co-owned restaurants, the Lord asked me to start picking up public bathrooms when I saw they were a mess. It was nasty. And I didn’t know why I was doing it. But the first time I picked up toilet paper off the floor in my first restaurant, it all made sense. I had been in training for this moment. It’d been a test.

For the Kingdom-minded person, their is no job too small. My senior pastor will vacuum the hallway just as easily as he’ll preach on a Sunday. There is no difference because it’s all service, and it’s all noble. It all affects people; souls are the common denominator.

The high road in the Kingdom is two-fold: do your best not to leave messes for someone else to pick up, and be eager to clean up someone else’s messes when you find them. The Lord knows I’m at fault here too, and so grateful for all those who’ve picked up after me throughout the years.

Who knows, you may just be preparing yourself for owning a business you’d never thought possible. ch:

20120118-070731.jpg

  • scott skillman

    …from a true servant’s heart!

  • Megan J.

    Honesty: Cleaning is my least favorite thing to do. Dishes is usually about my limit.

    However, spending so much time at church, I’ve grown to appreciate is so much more. Along with knowing Sue G., she never complained about it, yet she was older than me, was probably often in more pain than me, and yet she kept doing it. Who am I to complain? If I want people feeling welcome in our church, and comfortable, then I should do all I can to contribute to that. So, though I still prefer to spend my time cleaning up in the kids rooms, guess I’ll be stepping out to do other parts around the church too.

    Thank you so much CH, for all your words you have said, you have spoken truth and helped me more than you will ever know.

    You said something along the lines of this at Q&A I think: “Go to church to give, not to get. Though, through giving you will still get.”
    I’ve been living by these more than you could imagine. Thank you!

    • You’re such a blessing. I love seeing your smiling face pass me in the hall around here.

  • You didn’t say this above, but the picture speaks several thousand words. I’m pretty sure you having 4 messy kids helps drive this point home everyday. 🙂

  • One thing I hate hearing is, “Its not my job to _________.” I hold a special disdain when it’s said by Christ followers. If our job title includes ‘servant to all’ then it’s in our job description.

    Note: remind me of this if you hear me say those fateful words.

  • Miriam Woodruff

    Another very well articulated piece of thought provoking text flowing from the anointed. May it never end. … Serving is an outflow of the heart and I’ve found that everything is preparation for something; I chose to look at it that way. I do the same thing in public bathrooms. Only the Lord knows – oops, until now. 🙂

    • “Everything is preparation for something.”

      That’s a golden nugget right there!

  • Billy Jepma

    So, so true. I personally can’t stand clutter and mess. Don’t know why, it just messes with me (See what I did there?). So I find myself picking up after all my family, and although I hate it, it blesses my parents who also hate the mess but are so busy have trouble finding time to clean. Thanks for the post Christopher, very encouraging.