Once there was a dirty stream running through a town. The town council, wanting to clear their stream, hired a young man to remove debris from a spring on the mountain that fed the stream.
And so, each day with faithful, silent regularity, the young man hiked to the spring and removed the leaves that would have choked the fresh water. Graceful swans came to float along the crystal clear town stream. Profitable mill wheels turned freely, farmlands were irrigated, and the view was picturesque. The village became a popular attraction.
Years passed. One spring day the town council met to review the budget. Their eyes caught on the salary being paid to the obscure “keeper of the spring.” They decided this was frivolous, and they dispensed with the now much older man’s services.
By summer, someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the town’s stream. A few weeks later, the water was much darker. The flow of water dropped and a slimy film began to build up on the banks. The swans left, and visitors stopped arriving.
By autumn, the embarrassed council called a special meeting where they rehired the old keeper of the spring. Within a few weeks, the stream began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the town.
Moral of the story: Never become discouraged with the smallness of your job. Recall the words of Edward Everett Hale: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.”