If a Man is Called to be a Street-Sweeper

Today (…actually dated May 5th from my journal),

I was reminded yet again of one of my favorite quotes that is attributed to Martin Luther King Jr.

“If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”

We had a man knock on our gate this morning asking if we wanted help with our “yard” and curb. He  probably noticed that our “yard” which is really just a 4 by 20ft plot of dirt with overgrown grass and weeds was in dire need of some help. He offered to work for $200 pesos which would be about $15 USD. We decided to hire him based upon that we have seen him work on the house across the street and he seemed to do a good job and also that he was a friendly older man. He immediately set off to work with the tools of his trade as a gardner. He utilized all manual tools: trimming sheers, a metal pole with a flattened end (a rudimentary hoe of sorts), a self made broom made out of what looked like hardened reeds, and a piece of hard plastic that worked as a dust pan. Little did we know how long and hard he would work…

He worked for over 4 hours: breaking the ground with his “hoe”, pulling weeds, trimming our flower bushes, sweeping, and trimming the grass with his sheers. He was often on his hands and knees and worked well into the early afternoon sun. He worked harder than I ever would have expected and cleaned up our ugly plot of earth…leaving nothing but the grass to takeover where once weeds dominated. During the heat of the day we bought him a cold bottle of water and at first he gently refused but then took the bottle on our second offer. We told him he deserved it for working so hard in the heat. He simply responded with a statement along the lines of…”What else has a man to do but to work hard.”
I was humbled by this man’s gentle attitude, quite determination, and pride in his work. After he was done he was overjoyed by our questions and was excited to show us his tools and how he used them. He puts my efforts to shame. I only pray that I can apply myself to my jobs and tasks at hand no matter what it is…from sweeping a street to studying Spanish to leading ministries.

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11

 

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Categories: Mexico, Mission | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “If a Man is Called to be a Street-Sweeper

  1. I needed this!. Thank you.

  2. Unknown Man Stalker

    This reminds me of one of my favorite passages in Ecclesiastes about “Eat, drink, be merry and enjoy ones labour upon the earth”. There seems to be a drastic misunderstanding at times in how we approach life. Taking pride and joy through ones work, not because the promotion, prestige or monetary gain, but rather realizing the value, importance and weight that the labour carries. Doing all things to the Glory of God because of the good in it and recognizing why the command is given, rather than obligatory fiefdom that legalism carries.

    I flipping love the Johnsons!

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