Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. – 7 Lessons from the Life of MLK

January 17, 2022

Good morning AHOW Family!

Today, I join the whole world to honor the life and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesman and leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Though Dr. King’s life was taken at a very young age of 39, very few Americans can be said to have such an impact on a nation. We can say concerning him just like Abel by faith; he continues to live and speak even though he is dead. (Hebrews 11:14). So as we celebrate his life today, I would like to share with you seven lessons from the life of this great man of God, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

1. It is Not How Long But How Well
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. died at a seemingly young age of 39, but if his life and legacy taught us something about life, life is not about how long we live but how well. MLK originally wanted to be a pastor later pivoted to become a civil rights activist who helped expand the Civil Rights Movement across the South. According to his Wikipedia page, “King was awarded at least fifty honorary degrees from colleges and universities. On October 14, 1964, King became the (at the time) youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to him for leading nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in the U.S. In 1965, he was awarded the American Liberties Medallion by the American Jewish Committee for his “exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty.”

2. Follow Your Heart and Passion
Martin Luther King didn’t have to become involved with the civil rights movement. In fact, it probably would have been better for him if he hadn’t, as his efforts led to his assassination in 1968. But he was determined to make a difference for his family, people, and country. As he said in one of his iconic speeches, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?'”

3. Have A Dream and Pursue It
MLK had a dream of America that would be more fair and just. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” He also said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.” Most great leaders and innovators claim that having a dream is the most critical part of being a good leader and the only way to achieve real success.

4. Do not give up! Push on and persevere.
MLK believed in his dream. He believed in it so much that even though he was incarcerated on different occasions, he was never deterred from fighting for his dream for human rights. If you are going through tough times, it does not mean that you should quit. Never quit. Just keep moving forward. In one of his speeches, Dr. King said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

5. Use Your Words To Inspire
Words are powerful. Dr. King used his message of peaceful resistance and racial equality to inspire a nation and awaken the conscience of its leaders. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” Many times, we underestimate the power of our words. As believers, our words are especially powerful under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

6. Do Not Pursue Popularity, Pursue the Truth
Dr. King was highly unpopular in his days. Apart from people in power who felt threatened by him, many of his contemporaries disagreed with his nonviolent, non-retaliatory method of protest. They thought it was foolish and did not believe it would succeed. But he stuck to his principles no matter what because he believed it was from God. Being a man of God, he knew the only way to have long-term success is by following the truth, which is God’s Word, and not just his feelings.

7. Love Always Win
One of my favorite quotes by Dr. King was spoken during an address in Atlanta for the 1967 Southern Christian Leadership Conference, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” The way to defeat your enemy is by loving them, praying for them, and refusing to retaliate.

As we celebrate the legacy of this great man of God today, let us reflect on how we can make a difference in our own world by learning from his life. May we be inspired to live a life of purpose and fulfillment in Jesus’ name.

Jide Lawore
Lead Pastor, Agape House of Worship

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