Martin Luther King, Jr was born on this day, January 15, 1929.  In honor of his 84 birthday, I thought I would share four of my favorite thoughts from his writings:


1. On the Purpose of Education

“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively
and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may
prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may
be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals… We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus
character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education
gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon
which to concentrate.”
-The Purpose of Education


2. On the End of Life-

“I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest
thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to
be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The
end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.”
-Paul’s Letter to the American Christians


On our opportunity today to demonstrate an historic Christian witness
and to help bring an end to modern evils such as inequity in education-
“There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early
rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church
was not
merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a
that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the
people in
power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being
“disturbers of the
peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that
they were “a
colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in
commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their
effort and
example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial
Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice
an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. Far from being
disturbed by the
presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the
silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not
recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity,
forfeit the loyalty of
millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth
– Letter from Birmingham Jail.


4. On Excellence-

And when you discover
what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty
called you at this particular moment in history to do it. don’t just
set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the
living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like
Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed
music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan
Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so
well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say:
Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”
What is your Life’s Blueprint?