I never knew what the job of ‘community organizer’ entailed. I knew what a bus driver, a plumber, a bookkeeper, or a ballerina do. But, what does a community organizer do? I found out by reading a little book called Rules for Radicals written by Saul Alinsky, a Chicago political activist. (And no, I’m not sure what activists do either.) At any rate, Alinsky explained that a community organizer should “…rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; to fan latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expressions.” Okay, now I know.
Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that one definition of wisdom is being able to learn something from everyone. I guess I’m not so wise because I am not sure what I could learn from community organizers. However, I know I have much to learn from bus drivers, plumbers, bookkeepers and ballerinas. Around Memorial Day each year, I think about things I learn from soldiers.
This year, I learned from the head of Special Operations Command, Admiral Bill McRaven, why soldiers always make their beds first thing in the morning. Here are his words from his Commencement Day speech at the University of Texas:
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”
He got my attention as the Code of Jewish Law opens with the words:
One should be as strong as a lion in rising in the morning
for the service of one’s Creator.
(Shulchan Aruch 1:1)
Don’t just rise in the morning like a lion but rise in the morning like a lion for the purpose of serving one’s Creator. The question is, how do we best serve our Creator?
Here is one clue:
Cursed be he who does the work of the Lord negligently…
According to ancient Jewish wisdom, this verse means that anyone who fails to satisfy his employer or customer with speedy and diligent service is cursed. (Midrash, Tana D’vei Eliyahu Rabbah)
What a stunning insight! Taking care of our customers, clients, and employers is doing God’s work!
Interestingly, an English word that describes taking care of business speedily and diligently is enthusiastically.
Here is the etymological source of the word enthusiastic.
From the Greek “entheos” meaning inspired by God.
Admiral McRaven had it just right. Being diligent in the tasks we undertake in our day, even ones that seem minor, leads us to end our day looking back at a string of accomplishments. When we recognize that performing work for which we are paid is God’s work, our accomplishments grow even more.
I know that it utterly changed my life when ancient Jewish wisdom first taught me that taking care of my boss, my customers and my clients is also serving God. It transformed workdays from drudgery to ministry. It transformed servitude to service. It transformed lethargic indifference to passion and enthusiasm. As a side benefit, I started making much more money.
That’s God’s work. Contributing to other people’s lives. It might even be the life of your commanding officer. If you’re a bus driver, plumber, bookkeeper, or ballerina it’s very clear how you help other people. Community organizers? Not so much.
Some people tell me that they want to offer their services to others but don’t know how. Others fumble job interviews or excuse themselves as simply not “people people.” Then there are those who have great business ideas but can’t interest others in them and those who insist that they work hard but don’t seem to be progressing. For all of you, I recorded my 2 audio CD set Prosperity Power: Connect for Success. Starting your day listening to these CDs as you make your bed, work out or travel to work will propel you to do enthusiastically what is necessary to power up your work life.