MLK 50 Years Later

Fifty years ago, an assassin’s bullet took the life of the greatest civil rights leader of our lifetime, Martin Luther King. Looking at MLK 50 years later, we see his message more clearly, we hear his words more distinctly, and we wish for the civility in discord that he portrayed.

Today we are polarized by opposing factions that spread lies and do everything they can to split our great nation.  But when I look back on King’s words, I don’t hear hate.  Passion, yes.  Did he fight the establishment? No doubt.  But his message was one of love, not hate.

Servant the leadership, the type of leadership that I espouse and strive to exhibit in my life, is one that has to be rooted in love. A servant heart cannot survive without love.

King noted that love is integral to leadership.  That power and love are completely intertwined:

“One of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites, so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love . . . What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love, implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

One writer noted that King’s ministry was formed by the way of love. In his words, “I would recommend to you a way of love. I still believe that love is the most durable power in all the world.” Love is a power, power at its purest, but as such, it is a power that runs contrary to the powers and principalities of the world. It is, as we have seen, power that is only known in our weakness.

The opposite of love is hate. And King also makes it clear what hate does to us:

Hate is a cancerous disease which distorts the personality and scars the soul. To return hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate in the universe. Hate seeks to annihilate rather than convert. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. We must learn that it is possible to stand up courageously and positively against an evil system and yet not resist it with physical weapons and inner feelings of hatred.

I hope we never give up on the goal of having a unified world based on love. It seems like, in some ways, we are more divided than ever. But I see so much good in so many people. I cannot help but believe that MLK’s dream is still alive and well in the hearts and minds of many.

Let me just close by reminding you of the words from Romans 12:17-21.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The most important word

The Scout Law

A Scout Is:

  • Trustworthy
  • Loyal
  • Helpful
  • Friendly
  • Courteous
  • Kind
  • Obedient
  • Cheerful
  • Thrifty
  • Brave
  • Clean
  • Reverent

Several years ago I asked my scouts which one of these words is most important.  Hands flew up, “Reverent!” several shouted.  I told them no.  Then one-by-one they guessed at each of them.  Frustrated, they finally said they gave up.

The most important word is “IS”.  It doesn’t say a scout tries to be trustworthy, or is sometimes loyal.  It doesn’t say that you are reverent on Sundays and friendly to those that you like.  It simply says that he “is”.  And that’s an important distinction, and why I think it’s the most important word.

Eagle Court of Honor Benediction

Recently I was invited to provide the benedeiction at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for a young man I’ve known a very long time. I was honored to do so. I love the tradition of the benediction, a blessing given to those in attendance, and in the case of an Eagle Court of Honor, a blessing upon the new Eagle himself.

I wrote this specifically for this young man, but many have asked for copies of it. So I thought I’d share it here.

May honesty and integrity be your guide so that you can always stand by your word, a Scout is Trustworthy.

May you stand by your family, your friends and your country, even when it’s difficult and at times you may feel like you are standing alone, a Scout is Loyal.

May you always offer a helping hand or a cup of cold water to those in need, whether or not they ask for it, a Scout is Helpful.

May you always be the type of person that people want to be with, work with and live with, a Scout is Friendly.

May you always show respect to everyone, even those who may not seem to deserve it, a Scout is Courteous.

May harm never fall to anyone or anything due to your actions, a Scout is Kind.

May you always follow the laws of man and of God, a Scout is Obedient.

May you greet each and every person with a smile each and every day, a Scout is Cheerful.

May you cherish the gifts God has bestowed on you and never take them for granted, a Scout is Thrifty.

May the courage you have shown thus far in life only grow as you face steeper challenges on the road ahead, a Scout is Brave.

May your words, your mind and your body remain pure as God intended, a Scout is Clean.

May you always love and honor the God which created you in His image, a Scout is Reverent.

May you keep yourself Physically Strong, Mentally Awake and Morally Straight.

And, May the Great Scoutmaster of all Scouts, be with us until we meet again.
Amen.

Principle-Centered Leadership

I was reviewing the book “Principle-Centered Leadersihp” by Stephen Covey the other day, and was reminded of the great message he has in this book.  Here’s a summary.

Overall theme:  That “natural laws, principles, operate regardless.  So get these principles at the center of your life, at the center of relationships, at the center of your management contracts, at the center of your entire organization.”  Further, these principles have been “woven into the fabric of every civilized society and constitute the roots of every family and institution that has endured and prospered”.

  • We may not like them, we may not agree with them all, but they are there. And they have proven effective throughout many centuries.
  • Six major religions all teach the same core beliefs – fairness, kindness, dignity, charity, integrity, honesty, quality, service and patience.
  • Principles are different than values.  Even street gangs and German Nazi’s held values.

How we react to these principles impacts every aspect of our lives.  For example, the principle of trust impacts us on four levels:

  1. Personal – Trustworthiness
  2. Interpersonal – Trust
  3. Managerial – Empowerment
  4. Organizational – Alignment

He gives characteristics of principle-centered leaders.

  • They are continually learning.
  • They are service-oriented.
  • They radiate positive energy.
  • They believe in other people.
  • They lead balanced lives.
  • They see life as an adventure.
  • They are synergistic.
  • They exercise self-renewal

Traits that are essential for managers to exhibit this type of leadership are:

  1. Integrity – “the value we place on ourselves”.
  2. Maturity – “the balance between courage and consideration”.
  3. Abundance Mentality – “there is plenty out there for everybody”.

The abundance mentality is the “bone deep belief that there are enough natural and human resources to realize my dream”. 

The need for a moral compass.  Values are maps, principles are a compass.  We need to trade in our maps for a compass.  An accurate map is a good management tool, but a compass is a leadership and an empowerment tool.    Maps change, compass bearings are constant.