The One Phrase We Must Eliminate From Our Vocabulary

This article was sent to me from someone who heard me speak on the the dignity of ALL work.  It is a great reminder that all work can be worship.

By Jennifer Dukes Lee | Article from  29 AUGUST 2015

I have a friend who works as a school janitor. Over the summer, she worked long hours to deep-clean the schoolhouse before students returned from summer break.

Exhausted from the extra work, she called me the other day, wondering what worth her work held. To her, it felt insignificant in the scheme of things — waxing floors, washing blackboards, wiping down every desk in every classroom.

“Jennifer,” she said, “every day, you get to look on your day’s work and know that you’ve done something for the Lord. You write blog posts and books, and you speak at conferences. You help people know how much they’re loved by Jesus.”

“But me? I empty garbage cans,” she continued. “I’m just a janitor.”

I wish I could have reached through the phone, put one hand on each of her shoulders and looked her straight in the eye when I responded to her. I told her what I want to tell you — and what I have to remind myself again and again:

There is no such thing as just a janitor, or just a mom, or just a blogger, or just a volunteer, or just a secretary, or just a (__________).

This is the one phrase we all need to eliminate from our vocabulary: “I am just a . . .”

In the body of Christ, there is no such thing as “just a.”

Take a look at a few of our spiritual ancestors:

  • David could have said he was “just a boy.” But he didn’t. He grabbed five smooth stones and slayed a giant.
  • Paul could have said he was “just a tentmaker.” But he didn’t. He carried the gospel into the world, spreading it like wildfire.
  • Mary could have said she was “just a teenage girl” from the wrong side of the tracks. But she didn’t. Nine months later, she gave birth to our Savior.

Sometimes, it seems like everyone else is getting tapped for the coolest Jesus assignments. In the body of Christ, it can feel like you are “just an eyelash” while your best friend is a bicep. It can feel like you’re “just a toe” while your colleague is a leg.

But try walking down a beach on a windy day without eyelashes. Try running a race without toes.

Paul the tent-maker said it like this:

“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. . . . As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where He wanted it.” {1 Corinthians 12:14-18, MSG}

“Right where He wanted it.”

My friend is where she is for a reason — because God wanted it that way. So are you, and so am I.

That day on the phone, I reminded my friend of all the unforeseen accidents that never happened because she had cleaned up a spill before students stepped into the hallway. I reminded her how she makes such an impression on teens, because she makes a point to know all their names. And I reminded her that her most important work happens after she clocks out every night: She has made a commitment to pray for every kid she encounters.

You don’t have to hold a microphone to do something big for Jesus. (And if you do, remember that a tech person set it there, and that a janitor swept the floor before you stepped onto the stage.)

You don’t have to have a big blog following to be important to the body of Christ. (But if you do, remember that you wouldn’t be able to do it without your web designer or the person who — thanks be to God — invented spam filters.)

We are all in this together. Maybe your life doesn’t get celebrated on Instagram. Maybe nobody is @-mentioning you for your latest book or upcoming song release.

Your life is probably like mine, full of a lot of little things that would never make headlines. But the little things aren’t “just-a” things. The little things are the big things.

Look at you, friend. You prayed and cooked and believed and cheered and hugged this week.

“Just a” didn’t put clean socks in their drawers.

“Just a” didn’t put dinner on the table last night.

“Just a” didn’t put a bandage on the 14th skinned knee of the season, or log a thousand hours on the bleachers.

“Just a” didn’t organize meals for the sick mother.

“Just a” didn’t send the sympathy card to the grieving widow.

“Just a” didn’t do a thing. You did.

And it mattered.

Have you believed you are “just a (________)? Have you felt like an eyelash or a toenail?
Who could you encourage today, to remind them that their work is vitally important to the body of Christ?


I am a storyteller and a grace dweller, blogging about faith at I wrote a book called Love Idol. It’s for…