Martin Luther King, Jr. — Can We Live Such a Life of Great Purpose?
There are so many things to ponder when it comes to the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. But I have one question for you and me as leaders:
Will we be ready to make a mark on history when we are called to lead?
At age 26, Martin Luther led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott following the arrest of Rosa Parks. In 1957 at the age of 28, he helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), serving as its first president. At age 34 King helped organize the 1963 Jobs & Freedom March on Washington, where he delivered his famous socioeconomic speech containing the impromptu “I Have a Dream” declaration. At 35 he became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. By age 39 his life was abruptly ended when he was assassinated on a hotel balcony in Memphis, TN.
Are we prepared to live a life of great purpose?
While most of us are finding ourselves in our 20’s, striving to advance our careers in our 30’s, seeking to be the boss in our 40’s, then pausing to reflect and ponder how to give back in our 50’s and beyond, King was ready to put his life on the line all along.
He was prepared and committed to live out a life of great purpose.
If the opportunity had presented itself to him at such a young age, and he was not ready—if he were not emotionally and spiritually mature, had he not studied Ghandi and Tolstoy, had he not lived a life of proactively developing his thinking and sharpening his personal principles—he would not have been able to lead a movement and a nation to such a remarkable breakthrough.
The struggle for you and I is to position ourselves as early as we can in life to be prepared to accept such challenges. We must be intentional and aggressive about our personal development. We must make it our mission to learn and grow, and seek to apply what we are learning in a way that makes a lasting impact on our world!
Will we embrace the challenge of discomfort?
Often, our goal is to work hard to get to a place of comfort. The great leaders of history chose a place of discomfort because that’s the place where progress occurs. In order to affect progress, one must challenge the status quo. And that causes stress, tension, danger, and dissonance within our environment.
So are we willing to let go of our current agenda—a life of comfort and security— in exchange for a life of discomfort? Are we willing to position ourselves to adopt that great challenge that may one day present itself to us and be willing to give everything?
All the greats did—Mandella, Lincoln, George Washington, Mother Theresa.
As I write this on this Sunday, January 19, 2014 from Havana, Cuba, I have a heavy heart as I see the powerful storms that have gripped our world over the last 100 years. We need powerful leaders like Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Let us do more to honor these great men and women than applaud their efforts. Let us add to their momentum everything we can give of ourselves. Are you willing to live such a life of great purpose?
Question: What is the driving purpose you are called to affect in your lifetime?
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