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Garbage Collecting for the Glory of God

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In a new video from The High Calling, Howard Butt, Jr. shares the story of David Magallenez, a garbage man who daily serves the people of San Antonio by removing their trash, and does so with a happy heart.

“If I’ve done my job well, people don’t even know I’m there,” David says.

As the narrator concludes: “Neither job title nor position earns a person true stature. But in any field, dedication in serving others exemplifies the high calling of our daily work.”

As Lester DeKoster explains in Work: The Meaning of Your Life, the quietest workers in the most mundane occupations often serve the most central needs of civilization, and glorify God in turn:

If all workers did quit, it would not make too much difference which workers quit first—front office, boardroom, assembly line, or custodial staff. Civilized living is so closely knit that when any pieces drop out the whole fabric begins to crumple. Let city sanitation workers go out this week, and by next week streets are smothered in garbage. Give homemaking mothers leave, and many of us suddenly go hungry and see our kids running wild. Civilization is so fragile that we either all hang together or, as Ben Franklin warned during the American Revolution, “we shall all hang separately.”

garbage manIncidentally, let’s not make the mistake, if ever we are tempted, of estimating the importance of our work, or of any kind of work, by the public esteem it enjoys. Up-front types make news, but only workers create civilized life. The mosaic of culture, like all mosaics, derives its beauty from the contribution of each tiny bit.

Lest we forget, garbage men and women serve the common good, and often do so without much honor or praise.

Next time the garbage truck rolls around, as we hear it’s rattle and rumble — and many of us will still be comfortable in our beds — let’s say a prayer for these dutiful workers, and thank God for the good their service does for humanity.

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Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, Intellectual Takeout, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Patheos, LifeSiteNews, Charisma News, The Green Room, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.

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