Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials. (James 1:2)

I WASN’T HAPPY about the assignment given to the members of the short-term team I was leading in Ulambontor, Mongolia. We were to dig a deep hole for an outdoor latrine. I would not have minded doing this except that the hole we were to dig was only five feet away from the old latrine that was overflowing with “grossness.” As I began picking the hard ground, I kept thinking, “You’re touching dirt that has been tainted with human waste! Make sure you keep your mouth shut; you wouldn’t want any of this dirt to get into your mouth.”

With each swing of the pick, my displeasure and disgust seemed to grow. I began grumbling about how “stupid” this project was. After thirty minutes of listening to my griping, one of the members of my team pulled me aside and stated, “I know you are the leader, and I know I am only a student. Therefore, I have been hesitant to say anything. However, I feel I need to respectfully say this. Dr. Lo, you need to change your attitude. Your grumbling is a bad witness for Christ. The Mongolians are watching you. They may not understand what you are saying, but they are catching your ugly, complaining mood. You need to consider it pure joy to serve, even if the task seems gross to us.”

Maintain a joyful attitude even when your circumstances are unpleasant.

Jim Lo is the author of Connect with God: The Purpose of Prayer (WPH), coauthor of Unholiness (WPH), and the dean of chapel at Indiana Wesleyan University.