November 05, 2007

I'm Just....

I was complimented ths morning via email. It is always a little weird. I have some esteem issues and often refer to myself as "just an administrative assistant."

I think this comes from the fact that my wife and bunches of our friends are teachers. My brother and his wife are both on the verge of higher-higher ed degrees. My little sister has aspirations in the field of criminal psychology. I talk to higher-educated people everywhere I go. I just have an Associates. A four-year-to-get-a-two-year-degree Associates at that!

I'm just an administrative assistant. No - worse than that. I'm just an admin.

When we reviewed my job description earlier this year I was asked what I thought my job title should be, if different from "Program Assistant." I support seven other staff members either directly or one degree of directness, so maybe a new title would be good.

Administrative Assistant to all?
Office Assistant?
Office Grunt!

We stuck with Program Assistant.

Some people talk about being called to a particular field. Typically these people are teachers, politicians or people in the ministry. I have never heard anyone say that their call was to work in an office.

I truly feel like this is my calling. I like what I do and I'm good at it. Better than I let on, but don't tell anyone!

Anyway - All of that is to say that I came across a really great quote from Martin Luther King Jr. Actually, it was sent to me by a minister when I told him I was simply a messenger.
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.

If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, just be a trail. If you can't be a sun, be a star. For it isn't by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

I think that I strive to be the best. I know my faults. I discuss them at the office openly, and will talk with anyone else about them if the need arises. I know what's wrong, and I work to fix it so that I can "sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry."

So, I leave you with that to Ponder and Comment on. What are you good at? What else do you read into this quote?


  1. I refer to myself as "just an admin" all the time, too. You're in good company! LOL My current title is also Program Assistant.

    It's good you found a job you enjoy - so many people don't like their jobs! And don't worry about the degree thing, either. My husband never got a higher level degree, while I'm working on my Master's. It's just a matter of what fits a person's gifts and goals.

    Good quote from Luther. I think it's important to know that there is no "just a. . . ". If we didn't have some of the "just" professions, where would we as a society be? trash men, day care teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers, secretaries. It's amazing how many people our society depends on in order to get things done, and yet we give them the least esteem. Ironic.

  2. this reminds of John Updike saying that he wanted to write with the same passion and joy as the monks who carve psalms on the bottom of choir seats that no one will ever see.

    I appreciate you work and your sense of humor as you labor in the vineyard

  3. I love that quote; thank you!

    And, "just an administrative assistant?!

    No way. I had that job for less than one year, and got out as quickly as I could, because I was so afraid that people would realize that I couldn't do it. (I really couldn't do it; I tried.)

    A good administrative assistant can make at least as much difference as a good chief executive, and it's at least as valuable a calling.

    And, because I have to respond thus whenever someone mentions John Updike (Roy): Updike is an asshole, as per the way he does his job. I don't know the man personally, but I don't think I'd be able to be civil to him if I did meet him, being unfortunately acquainted with his work as I am.