I heard her before I saw her. She cheerily greeted each weary passenger while we waited for our turn to use the woman’s restroom in the Charlotte, NC airport. She was the bathroom attendant and she took great pride in her work.
Immediately after a woman exited her stall, this attendant went in and wiped it down, humming Amazing Grace as she worked.
Each stall freshly cleaned for the next woman to use. She wiped the sinks, emptied the trash, made sure there were towels, personal hygiene items, and even set out a dish of peppermint candies for those of us who needed our breath freshened after a long trip.
Person after person, hour after hour, day after day she served others simply by wiping toilets, sinks, and floors but she did it with amazing grace.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once told a group of junior high students in Philadelphia…
When you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.
If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. But be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.
This bathroom attendant practiced Dr. King’s words.
While I was in that restroom I overhead woman after woman compliment her on how clean she kept it, her cheerful attitude, and her extra mile service. I’m sure the Lord himself smiled as he watched her practice Paul’s words, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23).
She will never know it, but that day she inspired me to press on. It’s easy to get crabby or weary and do our work with an edge of resentment or attitude of entitlement. That’s not who I want to be or what I want to do. I want to be the best possible me and do the best possible job for God’s glory.
How about you? Are you living fully or just existing, getting through each day but not very well? Are you doing your work the best you know how or do you settle for mediocrity?
Let’s learn a lesson from this simple bathroom attendant and commit to do whatever God calls to do with excellence, with joy, with gratitude and with creative gusto.
People notice even the small things when they are done with great love.