There is a man in my city I pass very often. I don’t know him–not his name, his family, nothing whatsoever. All I see is a single action of his, but it’s enough to make me admire him. I call him the pizza sign man.
For the past several years, this man has stood in all kinds of weather, from snowstorms to heat waves, and held a pizza sign at the edge of a busy road near a pizza place. If I drive past his corner in the middle of the day, he’s there. Day in, day out, always on his corner holding his sign.
I doubt many people grow up with the desire to hold a pizza sign. It’s not a glamorous job. It’s not terribly challenging, can’t possibly pay well, and to spend hours in one’s head with nobody to talk to surely gets difficult at times, but the pizza sign man continues on.
I spent a lot of years in an upper middle class world. I worshiped there, have friends there, and am influenced by that world, even though I no longer belong there. And the upper middle class world is no place for a pizza sign man. In that world, kids go to college and get good jobs and become successful, those inside the church and out. And in most churches there, those with more clout in the world have more clout in the church. The idea, I think, is that a Christian with power and success can reach the world and change the world for Christ in a way a pizza sign man cannot. Big, beautiful churches are not built by congregations of pizza sign men. Modern church life and programs take resources pizza men simply can’t muster.
During our marriage my husband has had all kinds of jobs, including a stint making and delivering pizza. People treat pizza men differently than engineers, but God doesn’t. When the pizza sign man stands on his corner in the pouring rain, God notices, and I suspect he smiles.
My father is a PhD in Civil Engineering who supported his family for the past decade as a security guard because he lost a job too near retirement age. Another PhD I know works at Lowes. Doing a job well is all God asks. Unfortunately, it’s not all the world asks. And even more unfortunately, the church doesn’t always see the value in the pizza sign man, either.
I don’t know what people think about the pizza sign man when they drive past. Maybe they feel pity. Maybe they feel superior. Maybe they admire him. I suspect most no longer see him. I don’t always notice him, but when I do, I pray for him. Jesus came for the pizza sign men as much as anyone else, and he loves them and wants to see them in his kingdom someday. When he first started I would point him out to my children. That man is doing a wonderful thing. He’s working hard, and he always shows up. I hope you can be an employee like that someday.
Yes, my friends with kids on scholarship at prestigious schools might think I’m setting too low a bar, but God just grins and hopes my kids grow up to be employees like that, too. Even more, he hopes my kids will love the pizza sign men and embrace them should they walk through the church doors, because there were times we were living the pizza life, too, and we didn’t always feel the love.
I now attend a church that meets in a ministry building where homeless people are fed every day. I hope we’re welcoming, to doctors and pizza sign men and disabled people on welfare. I hope my youngest, who attends church with us, will never think twice about the status of those he worships with, because I admit there were times in my life when I did. Shameful but true.
And hey, if we could get a pizza sign man to worship with us, maybe our church events would get discounted prices for pizza.