I spent this past summer working as a janitor. I worked this job to earn money, but what I gained more than money was a different perspective. Being a janitor opened my eyes to many new things, ultimately giving me a new outlook on life.
I’ll be honest, the first couple of weeks as a janitor were humbling. I remember picking up trash on the sidewalk thinking to myself “This is so embarrassing, look at all the cars driving by looking at me picking up trash.” Once I realized I wasn’t the center of the universe, I was able to humble myself and allow God to speak into my life.
Being a janitor helped me realize that everyone has equal value and everyone has a story. I am someone who is quick to judge. I look at people and instantly give them a value that I see appropriate. I may look at a homeless person and devalue them greatly. I may look at someone who smokes and view them as less than me. Janitors were always people I looked at and felt superior towards. I spent 20 years of life thinking this way until one day I became a janitor. I couldn’t be more thankful for that job because it changed my life.
There were two women on the janitorial staff that changed my life. As I got to know them, I realized they weren’t janitors. They were children of God who worked as janitors. These two women genuinely cared for me and my own life, yet I wrote them off before getting to know them. There was more to them than just cleaning buildings and vacuuming floors. Each of them had a story that deserved to be heard. They had family, friends and feelings just like me. In my ignorance I thought janitors were people who didn’t matter as much as me. Why? Because I believed their job defined them. I believed the truest thing about them was their occupation. Fortunately, the truest thing about us is what God says about us.
Turns out it took me 20 years to discover that everyone in the world has equal value. This is the case not because of one’s occupation, social status, ethnicity or popularity, but because Christ says we are loved by Him.
What I learned this summer is that all people are equal. That homeless person begging for money is just as valuable as that wealthy person making millions on Wall Street. That woman enslaved in sex trafficking is just as valuable as that pastor of a Megachurch. That person in a retirement home is just as valuable as that child in his mother’s womb. That person working as a janitor is just as valuable as me. Why? Because we are loved by God!
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16).