Great Servanthood

It is often hard to hear the revealed word that God wants us to know without being distracted by our own desires to advance ourselves and our position that either subconsciously or consciously counteracts the truth that we have heard from God because that truth is too difficult to fully understand as it relates to our lives.

I remember hearing about the assassination of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. as an elementary school student. The news that someone that I was taught to deeply admire, honor, and respect as a man of God and civil rights leader for all of humanity was ruthlessly killed, and could no longer continue his work that lifted up the plight of African Americans, as well as all other people who suffered discrimination and oppression, was a sobering and frightening thought to my young mind and in my immature emotional state.

I heard and saw many people in my neighborhood and on TV who were also devastated by the murder of Dr. King begin to talk about where the efforts to continue the work to raise the consciousness of this nation and other nations around the world to treat all people with the same high value and deep respect regardless of their race, or other differences in their humanity which were not accepted, would take and who would lead that movement into the future.

In the discussions around the table during family meals in my home and on TV, I heard several names of possible leaders who could take Dr. King's place and lead the civil rights movement at that time submitted in private and in public for approval from those who also worked as leaders and supporters of the civil rights movement.

At school, my teachers talked about how we, who were African American students, should be proud of the selfless work that Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. had done as one of the most recognized leaders of the overall civil rights movement to help make the lives of African Americans and other oppressed people of color, better. And, because of his work, we too could become a leader of civil rights and a leader in other ways to benefit the lives of black people, other people of color, and help change the world for good for everyone like he did.

However, I did not hear as much at that time, nor in the first few years that followed, about the toll that was paid by Dr. King and his family while he was alive. They lived under constant fear and anxiety and were severely lacking in time together as a family. For Dr. King, the pain of getting beaten and jailed, and the possibility that hurt, harm, or death could come to his family and the financial ruin that they could suffer because of his work as one of the prominent leaders of the civil rights movement must have been an overwhelming burden to carry.

In contrast, Dr. King's fellow workers had many days of blessed gatherings, heard heartfelt speeches, connected to people of various backgrounds who worked hard to raise both their voices and push their bodies past their limits to give others hope, care, and support who had received little of each over their lifetime. Their work for civil rights was filled with joy but also was a difficult burden to carry at times.

It is that balance in service for God revealed by Jesus regarding becoming a great servant that we all must hear but also heed. Especially, as we focus our attention this week of Stewardship month on the true nature of servanthood and lifting up the work of our laity, the people of our church who tirelessly do God's work in good seasons and in bad seasons, and how we should understand the requirements to be great servants of God according to Christ's example. Amen.

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