Almost exactly a year before he was killed in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a stirring sermon at the New Covenant Baptist Church in Chicago. King preached that day about The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life. King began, "you know, they used to tell us in Hollywood that in order for a movie to be complete, it had to be three-dimensional. Well, this morning I want to seek to get over to each of us that if life itself is to be complete, it must be three-dimensional." A complete life, King explained, requires attention to three levels - length (self-care), breadth (concern for others) and height (spirituality).
Here is one of my favorite passages, about finding what you are meant to do and doing it with all your heart:
After accepting ourselves and our tools, we must discover what we are called to do. (Oh yeah) And once we discover it we should set out to do it with all of the strength and all of the power that we have in our systems. (Yeah) And after we’ve discovered what God called us to do, after we’ve discovered our life’s work, we should set out to do that work so well that the living, the dead, or the unborn couldn’t do it any better. (Oh yeah)
Now this does not mean that everybody will do the so-called big, recognized things of life. Very few people will rise to the heights of genius in the arts and the sciences; very few collectively will rise to certain professions. Most of us will have to be content to work in the fields and in the factories and on the streets. But we must see the dignity of all labor. (That’s right)
When I was in Montgomery, Alabama, I went to a shoe shop quite often, known as the Gordon Shoe Shop. And there was a fellow in there that used to shine my shoes, and it was just an experience to witness this fellow shining my shoes. He would get that rag, you know, and he could bring music out of it. And I said to myself, "This fellow has a Ph.D. in shoe shining." (That’s right)
What I’m saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; (Go ahead) 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."
You can read the entire sermon here.
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