The great people whom later generations admire and celebrate are never really superheroes with powers beyond mortal capabilities. Despite legends and stories that develop making it seem as if celebrated people glow with a light of invincibility the truth is that every great person works and struggles, lives with challenges, and faces difficulties. Learning from them requires honesty and the ability look at them as real humans who have faced life directly and achieved notable results with the tools of life that are available to all.
A New Definition of Greatness
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the rare preacher who is celebrated with a national holiday (the other is the humble Jewish preacher whose birth the nation observes in December, and whose legacy Dr. King taught). In celebrating the life and great works and words of the Southern preacher, it is good to remember him as an ordinary person who achieved greatness. As he defined it:
- Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, February 4, 1968
Dr. King put forth a new definition that day: What it takes to be great is based on wisdom taught two thousand years before, but it frames the timeless advice in a manner that makes it accessible for everyone.
You Don't Need a Holiday to Be of Service (But It Helps)
Every day is a day of service for those who are great. The work that great people do is always their best because they are in service to their employment. Similarly, time they enjoy away from the workplace allows them another chance to be great in service at home and in the community. Holidays that allow a day off to take on service projects of greater scope than day-to-day schedules are excellent opportunities to expand a life of service. Those who are ordained online through the Universal Life Church are often empowered to get into the world and start making good.
Preaching Service Toward Salvation
Speaking on what would be the last night of his life before he was tragically shot the next day in Memphis, Dr. King spoke urgently about the need for service:
- I am always happy to see a relevant ministry. It's alright to talk about streets flowing with milk and honey, but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here and His children who can't eat three square meals a day.
It is clear that Dr. King saw his highest duty to be a life in service. While he is remembered for words and speeches that are truly wonderful and have inspired and guided people, those who knew him understood that his greatness grew out of his service. In his early twenties he joined in a bus boycott in Selma, Ala. He then spent his life traveling and participating with those who fought injustice and bigotry. His greatest call is an echo from thousands of years before, and it is one that everyone can heed: Greatness is within every individual, and it is fully realized in service to others.
Equal Opportunity for All
Every individual has the opportunity to be great. It simply takes a desire to serve and a heart focused on joy for others to enter the ministry whether literally as a preacher or ordained minister, or in a practical and real sense of service to those in need in the community. Opportunities for service abound in volunteering for churches or community groups, in helping neighbors, and in giving love to families and friends.