The story of the Street Sweeper--Be the Best at What You Do

As I watched television and listened to the radio this past week when our nation commemorated the famous "I Have a Dream" speech given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 50 years ago at the Lincoln Memorial I heard repeated several times another story that Dr. King, Jr. told with pathos and persuasion. In his story of the Street Sweeper we are once again reminded of giving our best in whatever job or ministry we may be given in life. It is a teaching that my parents taught my sister and me when we were children and teens growing up in Birmingham, Alabama. So, his speech bore witness with what my parents had taught me.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s story of the street sweeper teaches you and me to be the best at what you and I do regardless of our situation in life. That we should always aspire to be the best in our work and in our life.

Six months before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967. Part of his “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” speech is the tale of the street sweeper. It is calculated to inspire all of us in knowing that regardless of what we do we should always aspire to be the best we can be at what we do.

"And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

"If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

"Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are."

May God help us to know that the God of heaven appoints every man and woman, boy and girl his or her mission and work in life. When we discover what that is, let us do it with all of our hearts, all of our might, and all that is within us to the glory and praise, and honor to God (Read Matthew 3:25 in the Living Bible).

The story of the Street Sweeper--Be the Best at What You Do