This weekend we're celebrating the legacy of a great man in history. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a drum major for justice and servant leader to the people. A Baptist preacher, his ministry extended well beyond the pulpit and his message well beyond his generation.
Dr. King’s life is a guidepost for all of us to follow. He was only 26-years-old when he delivered a speech urging thousands of people in Montgomery, Alabama to boycott the busses, with Rosa Parks standing beside him.
When I think about his various works in society, I am reminded of his sacrifice of service. He led tens of thousands of people on the road to civil rights. His uplifting and transformative words and staunch determination paved the way to the right to vote, labor rights and desegregation.
Despite his notoriety, he remained humble. Instead of seeking fame and fortune he sought to be of service to mankind. He envisioned a world where everyone would co-exist in peace and harmony. On February 4, 1968 at Ebenezer Baptist Church, he preached a sermon known as “The Drum Major Instinct.” He warned his congregation of the desire of being important to others, over service to others.
He encouraged them to work for the good of mankind. “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love,” he said.
There’s nothing wrong with being important or making a lot of money, but recognize that the reward of service is much greater than the recognition from others.
Enacted by Congress in 1994, the MLK Day of Service calls on individuals to strengthen communities, bridge divides, remove barriers, and bring people of different minds together to move us all closer to Dr. King’s version of a “beloved community."
I echo Dr. King’s sentiments and urge you to use your time, talents, access and abilities to serve in anyway that you can. Seek ways to serve. If feeding the homeless is not your thing, then perhaps reading a book to a sick child is. If that’s not what you want to do, then maybe growing vegetables and giving them to families in your community is your language of service. Perhaps you think that you don’t have a lot of time or money to give, then find a way to uplift others, maybe a phone call, to those who have been isolated from family and friends in this pandemic.
Truly, everybody can be great, because everybody can indeed serve. Use your language of service to shine a light in the world.