Monday, January 16, 2006

A New Definition of Greatness

In memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., I visited The King Center Web site. The site plays a recording when you enter it, and it's a quote from King's 1968 sermon, "The Drum Major Instinct." So I looked up this sermon and found the definition of what Martin Luther King calls the "drum major instinct." He based it on the research of Viennese physician Alfred Adler. And so this "drum major instinct," he says, is the "quest for recognition" and the "desire for attention." The desire for distinction is the basic drive of human life.

King continues his sermon with discourse on Jesus Christ, saying:

And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.

I thought that was a wonderful thought for the day -- or, for life.

Thing I'm thankful for: America. It is a great country, isn't it?


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