One thing about my background and participation in sports is that I was exposed to fellow athletes, coaches, and competitors who “aimed high.” I was a self-motivated individual who had lofty goals (in my mind, at least). I learned early on the value and tension of inspiration and preparation, and in many cases I out-worked some of my competitors on the way to achievement and victory.
I am also one of those people who see the world through the “glass is half empty” perspective, realizing we have water in the glass. That tendency to think and lean in the positive comes from my parents, who instilled in me a “can do” attitude and work ethic. It’s one thing to think you can achieve something, and another altogether to actually put the work in to do it. It often helps to observe someone modeling that sort of lifestyle.
I have a list of “mentors,” men and women who have modeled what it means to “aim high” and live life well. One of those is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have a picture of Dr. King on my basement wall of “heroes of the faith.” The quote on the image of Dr. King says, “If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
Dr. King was affected and influenced by the person and teachings of King Jesus, the Author and Finisher of The Story. Martin patterned his life and service after that of Jesus, believing God made him for a purpose. Martin was a preacher of the Gospel (i.e., the message) of Jesus. He was also the son of a preacher and the grandson of a preacher, all having served as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
Martin attended and prepared for ministry at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Crozer Seminary in Chester, PA, and received his PhD in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955.
Read John 15:13.
Prior to 1955, African Americans were denied equal rights in much of the southern United States. The initial opportunity to challenge the injustice emerged in December 1955 when Rosa Parks (another one of my heroes), refused to move to the back of the bus when ordered to do so.
Martin was asked by residents of the Montgomery Improvement Association to launch a bus boycott. A year later (after much struggle, arrests, and persecution), Montgomery buses were desegregated. Knowing the righteousness of God as well as Jesus’ call for justice, Martin stepped out and up into the national spotlight. He believed his concern for civil rights grew right out of his faith as a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom. His famous August 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech captured and catalyzed America. His final words were brimming with hope when he said, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” That ignited a struggle for civil rights for all that lasted twelve years until Martin was martyred on April 4, 1968, at the young age of 39.
Serve globally. Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” May we follow his example and aim high as Gospel-inspired peacemakers on campus and beyond.
Love is a verb,
©2018 by Mike Olejarz