Using vocational service to build peace

RI President Sakuji Tanaka

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

In Japan, we place great importance on the value of work. Whatever we are called to do, we should do it to the very best of our abilities, with dignity and with pride. Whether the job is running a country or shining shoes, there is honor in every vocation.

I grew up embracing this belief, but I had never stopped to contemplate it. One day, in my third year in Rotary, we had a speaker at our club who talked about the purpose of one’s livelihood. He asked, why do we work hard? What is the importance of our work?

I had never thought about this before. I never saw it as a question. We work to earn money. We work to be successful. We work because it is required of us. To me, this was all.

On that day, I learned about the idea of vocational service. It was the idea that through our work, we can serve others. We think about others’ needs, and grow to care more for the needs of our communities. We build positive connections between people, and a more peaceful world.

This is the idea that has changed my life. It did not change how much I worked, or how hard I worked. But it changed why I worked, and how I experienced my life. It has made me see a higher purpose in everything I do.

The idea of Service above Self is an idea that is unique to Rotary. But it is an idea that can be embraced by anyone. And I believe very much that in Rotary, and beyond Rotary, we can build Peace through Service.

Read more about RI President Tanaka and watch a profile.




私はそれまで、このことについて考えたこともありませんでした。自問すべきことであるとも思っていませんでした。仕事をするのはお金を稼いで、事業で成功するためであり、必要だから仕事をするのだと思っていました 。





13 thoughts on “Using vocational service to build peace

  1. Hola.-
    Presidente Sakuji Tanaka.-

    Para mi es un gusto poder escribirle, ya que tuve la oportunidad de verlo en la Ciudad de Puebla México.
    Felicidades! por su mensaje es muy alentador, en verdad reconocer el trabajo a personas valiosas y sobretodo el preocuparse por servir a los demas, MI CLUB ERANDI ZAMORA, que está integrado por 17 señoras.
    El pasado mes de Octubre entregamos reconocimiento a dos mujeres que han dedicado parte de su vida y mucho de su tiempo, siempre dando lo mejor de si para servir y mejorar a nuestra comunidad.
    Ellas comentaron que han desempeñado tareas que les gustan y que les han proporcionado muchas satisfacciones.
    Que bueno que Rotary da este reconocimiento por el servicio a través de la ocupación.

    PRESIDENTA 2012-2013


  2. Dear President Tanaka,

    Thank you very much for your inspirational message. I’m from Rotary E-Club of District 2750, Tokyo Yoneyama which is a newly established Rotary Club and we are learning about vocational service this week. It’s a pleasure to read other comments from Rotarians all over the world as well.

    Dina F.
    Rotary E-Club of District 2750, Tokyo Yoneyama


  3. Vocational Service is the cornerstone of being a Rotarian. We are proud of what we do and how we do it but I often under estimate the powers of uplifting others in service. Having visited Japan a number of times I understand the sentiment behind President Sakuji Tanaka’s story.

    Vocational Month gives Rotarians an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate in others achievements in the workplace. It is not about focusing on our achievements it is about how we have helped others to fulfill their goals or rise above adversity.

    In Australia we encourage clubs to participate in the ‘Pride of Workmanship Awards’ where we ask the corporate business world to acknowledge people in their employ that have given ‘Service Above Self’. While most of these events can be quite localized such an event as New South Wales Police Officer of the Year is quite a prestigious event. The Commissioner of Police sees this as a way that the community can get to understand the police in their communities a little better, sanctions these awards.

    I would love to hear from other Rotarian of events that Rotary Clubs become involved in to celebrate Vocational Month.

    Cheryl Deguara
    District Secretary, Rotary International District 9750 (Sydney, Australia)


  4. Dear President,It is with immense pleasure to read your idea of vocational service and its multifaceted advantages while doing the job with full satisfaction understanding the need of others by which we are generating peace through service.


  5. Pingback: Vocational Service Month - Mountain State Rotary E-Club

  6. Dear RI President Tanaka, I want to thank you for your message on the importance of our everyday work in service to our community. What we do in life is of little consequence if it is not applied to helping our fellow man. As a Rotarian this is a message I have seen lived out repeatedly through our organization’s work both locally and internationally. Our club in Thomasville N.C. has just finished a community service project that involved the renovation of seven children’s playgrounds. This project called the “children at play initiative” is designed to re-educate the community about the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition in the pathway to improved health for our children. This project has brought together our city government, our Rotary Club, our communities churches, and our schools to create a community wide movement. To see our community pull together in such a collaborative effort and to see our children out of their homes and using these playgrounds really does exemplify peace through service. A project designed to promote health of our children bringing a whole city together to accomplish the goal. The result of this and all the other Rotary projects we are involved in as Rotarian’s makes our everyday work mean so much more. Thank You Rotary K. B. Milliren President Thomasville Rotary Club


  7. My dear RI President,
    You are dead right right. Vocational Service to me, is an important anchor of Rotary activities because it resides in Service above Self.
    It is indeed two-prong:
    1st is, Vocational Service by the Rotarian to the communities which in turn can help to build peace.
    2nd is, Vocational education projects and activities by the Rotarian to the New Generation (the future leaders) in grooming them up in Rotary’s Ideal of Service, that can
    in future yield great dividend in building Peace through Service.
    Rtn Albert Mike Dipeolu, PP and Editor, Weekly Bulletin of RC of Lagos West, Dist.9110, Nigeria.


  8. Pingback: Michigan club gives students a chance to explore their dream jobs |

  9. Dear President, you are 100% right. When we do the job for satisfaction instead of monetary benefits, we enjoy peace with is us. ” Work is Love in motion” says a Yogi. In Rotary too we enjoy doing the service oriented projects. Yes,we can radiate peace through Service.
    The Editor, “The Soul” official monthly bulletin of RC of Karur Texcity, Dt.3000. Tamil Nadu, India.


  10. I am also one of the rotary members of India based in Kalimpong, West Bengal under Darjeeling district in the year 2011 to 2012, I was a president of Rotaract Club of one of the college called as B.B Pradhan Management College Rotaract Club. I was really inspired by the club activities and gained lots of experiences too. But now, i am in country called as Bhutan going to join our club called Rotary Club of Bhutan which was recently opened in our country. So i even gone through the Rotary Club of Thailand, which has inspired by lots of activities done in your country. So now my intention and interest with your club was to gain access through your club and get linked with you all which i will be highly appreciated….

    Sangay Dorji
    From Bhutan
    Ex-President of Rotaract Club of B b Pradhan College, Kalimpong


  11. Dear Prsident,
    We have in our ancient scriptures stating that ‘Duty is God’. One must religiously follow it.
    Rajesh C Jampala


  12. Pingback: Using vocational service to build peace | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

  13. Dear RI President
    In Germany we have a saying ” Pride yourself in a job well done” and that encompases what you expressed if we take pride in what we do we automatically serve the community by example and help to create peace through service


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