Defining greatness

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019

This past Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which properly observed brings with it a host of good things our culture desperately needs.

One of the core aspects of Dr. King that Longwood University hones in on is his humble, servant’s heart.

The Longwood website quotes Dr. King as saying, “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.”

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Dr. King described this definition as new because he was putting it in the context of society in 1968, to which it would likely have been novel. It probably carries a similar novelty today.

He was doubtless pulling the definition from Matthew 23 in the Bible. At the beginning of that chapter, Jesus is speaking to the crowds and to His disciples about the scribes and the Pharisees.

Skipping ahead to verse six, He said, “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Dr. King humbled himself before God and man, and he has, indeed, been exalted.

We commend Longwood for seeking to inspire its students with this powerful message. It’s an all-important ingredient to being a strong citizen-leader that some might overlook.