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Humbled by the Maintenance Man.

God gives us more grace. That is why scripture says, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'. James 4:6 (NIV)

If I don't kill him first...

I sent the scathing text to my husband following my first encounter with one of the maintenance men at the complex where we live. Because—in my not-so-humble opinion—the guy scored a minus 5 on a scale of 1 - 10 with regard to professionalism and decency.

When the primary maintenance man and his new sidekick, Hank (not his real name), arrived to see about our faltering HVAC unit, I sat at my writing desk within earshot while they puzzled over the situation.

My hackles raised at Hank’s frequent string of profanities.

After a good bit of fiddling around and muttering, they dusted their hands, gave me a cautious thumbs up, and left.

But the problem persisted—and poor Mary spent an uncomfortable evening with moist, humid air circulating throughout the apartment. I reported the issue the following day but, being Saturday, the issue fell to the maintenance man on call.

Hank was on call—and none too happy about it.

Appearing at my door, Hank grunted in his thick native North Carolinian accent. “System’s froze.” Then he proceeded to turn and walk away.

He was abrupt and crotchety, with the approachability and communication skills of a cactus.

I stopped Hank's retreat, asked for clarification.

“I’m on call,” he spat out, face redding to the shade of a ripe tomato as he continued on—with no assurance he’d be able to fix the problem.

Later, Hank arrived to take another look at the unit. On his hands and knees, crouching near it, he grumbled an irreverent, “Lord, have mercy.”

That did it.

Pride duly roused, I wasn’t going to let that sit and brought the Lord into conversation. “Oh, He does (have mercy).” And you, sir, need large doses of it.

Hank stilled, then inched backward, sat on his heels and gave a crimped smile. “You go to church?”

Shocked, I unwound my tightly crossed arms. “Yes. You?” (Stupid question. Of course he didn’t!)

His face light up, eyes bright and dancing as though he’d discovered a kindred spirit. “Yes.”

My posture continued to shrink as Hank readily shared about his longterm membership at a local church, his involvement in—get this—the praise team and love for music, and his spiritual heritage … though, he’d confessed to having strayed for a time.

Married to his wife of many years, a father and grandfather, Hank had transformed in my mind from a crusty old maintenance man to a brother in Christ.

But he hadn’t changed at all. I just didn’t have the heart to see.

The unexpected exchange revealed the one thing Hank and I had in common.


While I could smack him to the moon about the use of profanity and the poor witness it was, God’s intent was to humble and transform me.

To show me how very wrong I’d been to mischaracterize a person made in the image of God.

Now when I see Hank around the property performing routine duties, I make it a point to wave, arouse a smile if his has gone missing.

The other morning on my balcony, I heard singing. Loud, glorious unashamed singing.

“Ain’t no sinner that He can’t save. Lemme tell you about my Jesus ...”

Intensely curious, I glanced from the pages of my Bible to see … Hank, meandering through the parking lot, a blue bucket in one hand and rod in the other to collect stray trash.

“Keep it up!” I called out.

He stopped, met my smile with his own, and wandered toward the base of the balcony. “You heard that song on the radio?” (real thick North Carolinian)

“It sounds better coming from you,” I said.

“It’s my favorite.” He hacked a cough, drew up his rod to point. “You oughta look it up on your phone and watch the video of it.”

Why hadn’t I noticed this gem of a guy before? Because I’d swiftly categorized him as “undesirable” when … while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

In the initial encounter with my potty-mouthed, gruff friend Hank, I'd let pride draw conclusions.

In C.S. Lewis's classic book, Mere Christianity, he states …

“There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I’m talking of is Pride … and the virtue opposite to it … is called Humility.

Furthermore, it was through Pride that the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

Anyone still scratching their heads about the reason things are flipped upside down in the world?

To combat the insidious problem, God gives us more grace … (vs 6)

Denying that pride is at work—and thus, disregarding our need for grace—only bears evidence against us that it is.

Now I look forward to seeing Hank in and around the complex. The Lord has granted me a genuine affection for this brother in Christ. He serves as a prompt to consider my own offenses before Jesus that aren't broadcast or visible to the world but clearly seen and known—and forgiven—by Him.

While I hadn’t literally wished Hank dead when I sent the text to my husband, my anger was lethal.

I'm grateful God graciously realigns our attitudes with His where needed.

When has pride caused you to see someone inaccurately? Who in your life have you mischaracterized or struggled to love? How has pride hindered your connections with people?

Thanks for reading!

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Until next time,

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2 commentaires

J.D. Wininger
J.D. Wininger
18 sept. 2021

Such a good reminder that we must always be aware of how our testimony will impact non-believers, and also how we have to avoid judging others when we don't know their story. I'm guilty of being every person in this post ma'am. Great post Ms. Mary.

Mary A. Felkins
Mary A. Felkins
18 sept. 2021
En réponse à

We are, indeed, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, aren't we? How quickly we draw conclusions about others- often the wrong ones. And how short of grace we can be. Thanks, JD.

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