The Power of Striving for Excellence

As our nation will be celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. next Monday, it’s a good time to reflect on words he wrote that have much to say about the power of striving for excellence. Dr. King once taught, “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.”

Not all of us are called to be Michelangelo, or Beethoven, or Shakespeare. But we are called to bring forth our excellence in anything that we undertake. And this calling needn’t feel like a pressure-filled obligation to try for perfection, but rather can emerge internally, as an invitation to ourselves to see how well we can do something, how well we can fully be who we were created to be.

May we remember the inspiring words and example of Dr. King as we move forward into this new year. May we invite ourselves to stretch and expand beyond our comfort zones, as we acknowledge how far we have already come. May we know that we are precious just as we are; and may our dedication to excellence flow simply from the desire of wanting to serve.

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