“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
Vincent “Vince” Lombardi (1913-1970);
Yesterday afternoon Tom went to visit his brother-in-law’s newly renovated home. His brother-in-law buys run down homes which have been foreclosed and then refurbishes them. As Tom was driving home he reflected on his brother-in-law’s creativity and unique skill-set. He can literally create something of beauty out what appears to be nothing. Right now Tom is in the process of looking for a new home which caused him to appreciate his brother-in-law’s creative abilities all the more. Although Tom can do minor home renovations, he knows that that is definitely not what he has been gifted to do. It is the same with Michael whose father is a carpenter—who can also build and create very easily and well—but Michael has not inherited that gift from his father.
Admiring what others in our lives are able to do that we cannot causes us to reflect on the fact that all of us are gifted in a variety of different ways. None of us alone have the ability to do all things. But we appreciate that when each of us uses the gifts we have been given, when we recognize them, nurture and develop them, and then use them to the best of our ability, we enable our common life together to be much more satisfying and fulfilling.
No matter who you are, or where you come from, or how you have been created, you have something to add to your community and to the world. Whether you are a carpenter creating a home, a school teacher instructing a class, a server at Starbucks giving us our much needed caffeine boost in the morning J, the mail carrier delivering bills to us each day, or the road worker repaving the highways so we can go where we want to on vacation, all of us have gifts and abilities to offer.
Michael has a fear of getting his blood taken. He intensely dislikes the needles. This week for a physical he had to go to the hospital lab for a blood test. He was very anxious and when he sat down in the chair with the technician he blurted out how much he was dreading seeing her. It was at that moment that the technician’s true gift was revealed. Not only did she expertly draw Michael’s blood without pain or incident, but more importantly, knowing that he was extremely anxious about this procedure, she did a great job of trying to divert his focus. By asking questions about what he was doing for the Easter holiday weekend and his family and by telling him about hers she helped him to get through the procedure. There is absolutely no way that Michael could do that job. But he appreciates how valuable and necessary her job is and how well many many people can do difficult and dreaded jobs with skill and compassion.
One of Tom’s favorite TV shows is the show Dirty Jobs. DIRTY JOBS profiles the unsung American laborers who make their living in the most unthinkable — yet vital — ways. The host of the show Mike Rowe introduces us to a hardworking group of men and women who overcome fear, danger and sometimes stench and overall ickiness to accomplish their daily tasks. What Tom values most about the show-aside from its entertainment value-is its ability to bring light to the thousands of gifts that people have–doing what for many of us are hard and unappealing jobs and how those jobs are essential to our well-being and comfort.
So next time you are out to eat with your family and your server who is earning a minimum wage salary offers to refill your beverage, don’t forget to say ‘please and thank you’ because that server is the one who is providing you with the food you need to give you strength for the day. His job, like every job, is serving a purpose. We all benefit from each others service, from each others work, from each others gifts. It is important to recognize and to value those gifts which bring something needed to our lives.