The Portapotty

Phil 2:5 "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. "NIV

Camping is fun, but it also offers a lot of different responsibilities, especially when you use a tent trailer. One of those extrinsic tasks is cleaning the portapotty, or in other words cleaning the camping version of a toilet. What makes this task so interesting is that no matter how well it is cleaned, after a few days of usage, it makes itself known that it is time for it to be emptied into the dumping station. (boy it sure can smell!)

In order to do so, a volunteer is required. But acquiring such a volunteer isn't always easy: "Who wants to clean our portapotty?"

Silence, then a frantic flurry of activity as everybody suddenly remembers forgotten tasks that all MUST be taken care of IMMEDIATELY! It's actually quite phenomenal how this portable toilet can motivate my family to do their chores! But the bottom line is that cleaning the portapotty usually falls back onto the one asking the question: Me!

So one day, I decided that it was time to teach my boys the delight of this exotic task. The training wasn't too hard. They both watched with amazement as I dutifully performed emptying the holding tank. However, something happened to their skin sometime between when I started the task and when I finished: It turned from dark tan to pale white! Were they sick??? Maybe. Or perhaps this happened because of their eager anticipation of performing the task the next time! Yes. This had to be it! And I decided not to worry about my sickly-pale children.

Donovan, my oldest, was the first "privileged" one. (It seems there are certain advantages to being the oldest!) He needed some help, of course. (Though I wasn't really sure just which one of us would be doing most of the work!) He started out positive enough, but once we had attained the dumping station, something happened to his demeanor. He suddenly began to look a lot like Scrooge, and for some reason, complaints began flowing endlessly from his mouth!

Suddenly, I felt bad. I wanted to relieve him of this duty that he obviously found so distasteful, and if it hadn't been for the complaining, I might have let him off the hook right then and there. However, complaining can be dangerous. Remember Israel? Their complaining led them to wandering in the desert for an extra 40 years! So I decided to teach him a lesson:

"Son, you know how I feel about whining. If I don't do anything about your complaining, complaints would increase and your life will become so miserable that you would forget what you were born for. I will need to give you a consequence."

"A consequence!" My son was horrified.

"Yes. Next time the portapotty needs to be cleaned out, you are the one who will do it."

"But it's my brother's turn to clean it."

"It would have been, if you hadn't grumbled."


I didn't hear anything else about it from my son until worship time that evening. During our trip throughout Newfoundland, we got in the habit of sharing at least one way that each of us experienced Jesus that day. That evening my oldest shared with us the following observation:

"I experienced Jesus today when I cleaned the portypotty. It was wrong for me to complain, and it's a task that Jesus would have gladly done if He were in my place. From now on, I want to be the only one cleaning the portapotty. This is what Jesus would do!"

Wow! This came out of my son's mouth!

I tried to talk him out of it, but he was adamant that this was his decision, and in the next few weeks, my wife and myself found many discreet ways to accomplish the task unnoticed!

It's amazing how willing we are to bend over backwards for someone when they are loving and positive, and how resistant we are when someone complains. That day I learned a powerful lesson from my son: a negative attitude never pays, but you can never go wrong when your attitude depends on Jesus.

How has been your attitude lately? Are you ready to clean the portapotty?

Rob Chaffart

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