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Scrubbing Toilets: A Lesson in Pride

August 19, 2012

I have always had pride issues. I am competitive. I want to be the best and I am a sore loser. I am also extremely vain and my vanity is a like a huge boulder around my neck. I care so much about what people think of me that I am crippled; Crippled by vanity.

About ten years ago, I was a new Christian and totally fired up about Jesus. And I was still totally prideful. I thought I was going to save the world. Jesus was going to love me the most because of all the fabulous things I was going to do for him. I was going to be a stand out AMAZING Christian and because I was so rad, God would probably speak to me like He did the prophets and I would be written about for ages to come. I followed the words of Christ and sold all I owned and left for the mission field because I was that awesome and hardcore and way better than all the people who just continued living their lives and loving Jesus after being saved.

I even picked what seemed to be the “coolest” way to be a missionary. I joined Youth With A Mission, which was popular and hip and chose to go to their Newcastle, Australia location which focused on surfing and skating. What could be more awesome than that?!!! I was tearing out of Bakersfield to be a surfing, skating, super hip world changer! I was awesome!

And when I got there, you know what I did? I scrubbed toilets; a whole lot of toilets. I mean I did a lot of cool things. I surfed and skated and worshipped and hung out with super hip people from all over the world, but I also did some very “uncool” things. YWAM is like a missionary training program, so you live in a dorm and have school everyday and everyone has to pitch in a work duties. One of those duties is scrubbing the bathrooms. You are supposed to have one duty for a week and then you rotate and have a different duty. Well…I am not sure how this happened, but each week that I was supposed to rotate, something would happen and I would end up back on toilets. I scrubbed toilets every morning for four months! To top that, we had afternoon ministries that we were supposed to do. I chose one called Parkway because it was supposed to be helping out at a halfway house the YWAM base sponsored. The halfway house was near the beach, so in my selfish mind, I was thinking: “Yay! After duty surf days.” Ummm…that didn’t happen. You know what did? Scrubbing more toilets. Disgusting toilets. Poop on the floor kind of toilets. I also had the pleasure of cleaning cockroach droppings out of the kitchen cupboards. That was a fun day.

So for four months straight, while trying to seem like an amazing, world traveling missionary, I was really just scrubbing toilets. “What a crock,” I thought! “God….you are wasting my talents! I am way better than just someone who srubs toilets. I am 25 and full of energy and I am educated and look at me…I am cool. Why would you waste me all the way over in Australia cleaning bathrooms?! I HATE this!”

You know, writing these words make me want to cry because I am so ashamed at my pride and vanity, but this is the truth. My heart is ugly and I did not even grasp how to be a servant. I was and still am prideful and want praise and recognition. Criticism is my worst enemy and I will avoid it at all costs, and believe me, avoiding it can cost a lot because most really amazing things that you will do in life will be met with some pretty harsh criticism. Being afraid of critics stops you from changing the world. Jesus was critcized so much for the world changing things he did that he was even crucified but he did them anyways because he was more punk rock than I will ever be and he really didn’t care what the critics thought. And that is just one reason that he is my hero.

I have lately had the words that Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes running through my mind. I am reading it now looking for the perfect verse to cite here and it is hard to pick one. I want to put the whole book here for you to read because Solomon knew his crap. He knew that all the things we do to prove our awesomeness are nothing but vanity. He was the smartest and richest man alive and even he couldn’t feel satisifed in his own amazingness. You know what he suggested? Scrub that toilet and like it because that is the most amazing thing you can do. God gave you that freaking toilet to scrub so scrub with a smile and be stoked on the job you have done.

I am not going to cite a verse because you need to go read Eccesiastes right now and if you have already read it, you need to read it again.

Whatever work God puts in front of you, that is your calling. That is the unbelievable, world changing, universe rocking thing that He gave You to do and it is not meaningless. Doing things for vanity is always worthless because all you gain is a bigger ego. Doing the work God puts in front you, even the most menial of tasks, is truly beautiful work.

Children are the most amazing gifts because of how much they teach you on the worthlessness of pride and vanity. My kids stop me from being able to clean my house for the praise of houseguests because they destroy it as soon as I clean it, and that is good for me. I need what God is giving me now in my two little blessings that remind me daily: “Mom….this clean house is meaningless if you are not loving God and us while you clean it.” They don’t say that, but I know that is what they are thinking. Maybe if I cleaned with love in my heart instead of resentment for the husband who doesn’t see to do the dishes or the kids who just spilled milk all over my freshly mopped floor; maybe if I could do that, my clean house would really mean something. Right now, a house that was cleaned to impress others or with a begrudged attitude really is meaningless.

Ten years after my YWAM experience, I do not mind scrubbing toilets. God broke me of that and He will continue to break me of my resentment towards those tasks that no one pats me on the back for doing. I am writing this Blog right now for that very reason. I used to write a lot and in the past 8 years, I haven’t written much  but writing connects me with God. I feel things well up in me that I need to write down sometimes. I have only written a few posts over the past month but I was getting frustrated by the lack of praise (because, like I said, I am ugly prideful), but you know what? I am reminding myself the following: I am not writing for praise. I am writing for God. I am scrubbing my toilet for God. I am raising my kids for God. I am respecting my husband for God. And if I do these things for God and not for me, they turn into amazing acts that change the universe for the better. I want to make the universe better because underneath this disgusting pride, I think God really is working in me and He can do good things through me. I just need to get out of the way.

So whatever menial task that is in front of you today, do it well and change the world.


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  1. butlersatimetolaugh permalink

    Hi, just read this post and I love it. Absolutely love it. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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