Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Stop a Running Toilet

A couple of months ago I heard a noise in the church building.  It sounded like running water underneath grates in big cities.  Have the ninja turtles finally arrived to recruit me as the next April?  Per "All Creatures of our God and King" animals are welcome, but no turtles were found.

Maybe there's a leak in the kitchen? Nope.  No leak. 

Perhaps it's an issue in the restroom?  The women's bathroom was quiet as a mouse, but upon entry to the men's room I found the culprit:  The urinal was running like a madman and screaming for attention.  Eeeeek. 

What do I do?  Call the deacons, of course!  I called the deacon chair and he walked me through a solution.  I essentially punched the urinal in just the right place (yes I did) to stop it from running.  It worked!  Also I'll take "Things They Didn't Teach Me in Seminary" for $200, Alex.  The urinal was fixed and I felt like a champ.  I think I told 3,400 people about it. 

A few weeks ago another toilet was running and I observed someone quietly slip into the bathroom and fix the problem.  He fixed the problem and then did another 5 servant-y things around the building.  He didn't tell 3,400 people or ask for accolades.  He quietly fixed the problem and went on about other business of serving the church.

I wanted to post a clever facebook update.  He wanted to go unnoticed.  This is probably a lesson for me, yes? 

On Sunday we ordained two new deacons and reflected on Jesus' servant ministry in John 13.  Jesus shows us what love does by assuming a posture of humility and washing the feet of the disciples.  Let's be honest:  The disciples' feet had to ripe with nasty, and yet Jesus washed them.  Jesus teaches us about servant ministry by washing feet.

Likewise, servants in the church wash feet.  Servants aren't afraid to do the dirty work.  There is no task beneath the servant.  Servants take initiative and get things done.  Servants see someone sitting alone and make conversation.  Servants reach out to those perceived as strange or different.  Servants see a coffee spill on the floor and clean it up.  Servants do thankless things that may appear small.  Servants sacrifice for the good of others.  Servants fix the running urinal without fanfare. 

The church can improve in many ways, but whether you know it or not--there are secret servants all over the place.  It's a treat when you get to see one in action. 

Thanks be to God for folks who humbly serve to God's glory.


  1. You go, Katie! I wrestle with this daily - we are not taught in Seminary about the invisible work it takes to be, much less run, a church. Thank you for sharing your perspective and John 13. Having worked in construction, I actually enjoy "Facilities" management, but didn't know I'd also learn about pest control, leaky urinals, building compliance codes, old locks, roof leaks, arbor management, noise ordinances, leaf collection, electrical safety, piano tuning, floor buffing, how to properly clean carpets, rugs and furniture, painting, earthquake preparation, etc.! I view my new skills and the relationships I encounter as a chance to be Jesus for many who never set foot in a church. But when I'm shoveling snow in fashion boots or mopping up a leak in high heels, I'm reminded by your article of that bucket of water and the towel around Jesus' waist. So thank you for reminding us that it takes the whole body of believers to bring the Gospel to the world within and outside of our walls and church buildings.

    1. Thanks for your feedback and encouragement. Sounds like you were able to integrate lots of your construction background.

      It does take the whole body of believers. I hope we all remember that!