Monday, January 18, 2016

Inspiration and Guidance from Dr. King

Today, we celebrate the life and remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leader and soul of the civil rights movement in mid twentieth century America. More than a leader, Dr. King was a minister of the Gospel, an orator and inspiring speaker. He is probably best remembered for his "I Have a Dream" speech delivered on August 28 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. 

Even today, we are lifted up and inspired by the strength of Dr. King's dream, excerpts of which are below:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. 

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. 

I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character... 

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, the crooked places straight, and the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."

It was, arguably, the most significant speech of his career, but to my mind, his most useful speech was made not to crowds in Washington, DC in 1963, but to the students of Barrett Junior High School in Philadelphia, PA on October 26, 1967, practical words of advice to all who have ears to hear them.

"What I'm saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures! 

Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. 

Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. 

Sweep streets so well that all the host 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 on the top of a hill, be a scrub in the valley, but be the best little scrub on the side of the rill.  
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.  
It isn't by size that you win or you fail; be the best at whatever that you are!"

In my life, my mother urged me to "Be the best you possible."

The Army challenged me to "Be all that you can be!"

My church preaches "Whatever you do in word and deed, do it with a whole heart, as to The Lord."

We are to seek excellence, to over deliver, to do above and beyond the minimum.

Aristotle is quoted as saying "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Follow the words of Dr. King. In whatever it falls for you to do, be excellent.

Are you the best you can be?

Is excellence your habit?

Tree, scrub, highway, trail, sun or star, are you the best at whatever you are?

Why or why not?