Idealist? Defeatist? Extremist?

Posted: September 30, 2010 in Thoughts
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One of my favorite quotes of all time is from the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. He said this, “I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘is-ness of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘ought-ness’ that forever confronts him.” I have shared this quote with many people over the past five years or so but have never attempted to explain why this statement so deeply resonates within me.

 The first time I read this quote I must have reread it ten times or so. I highlighted it in my book and then typed it out on my computer. I then printed it off my computer and hung it on the wall in front of my desk so that I could read it every day.

As an idealist and a person who quite often shares grand ideas with those around me, I found a simple truth to be true; most people are defeatist. I have seen the rolled eyes and heard the “yeah rights”. Usually they come from people who make a relatively small impact on the world around them. For rarely do people who believe change is not possible seek to initiate change. Therefore life goes on as normal in their world.

 The reason Dr. King’s quote so moves me is because he recognized the ability of man to make profound difference on the world. He did not allow his race or ungodly politics and social issues to dictate what he was capable of. He strove for something higher. He had a calling that was beyond even what he could dream of.

He got the fact that he did not have to be defined by oppression. He realized the condition of the society he lived in needed a change. It would not be convenient, fun, free from great pain, or a money making venture. Ultimately, it would take his life. Yet he pressed on.

 Another quote that moves me comes from a man by the name of Marcus Buckingham. He is an author and speaker and has spent many years doing research for Gallup Polls. He said this, “I am not satisfied. This is the mantra of the leader. As a leader you are never satisfied with the present, because in your head you can see a better future, and the friction between what is and what could be burns you, stirs you up, propels you forward. This is leadership.”

The concept of what is and what could be is a road many people rarely allow themselves to travel down. Yet, it is a road that they should travel down. I strongly believe it is a road that has been traveled by all who have achieved greatness in our history.

I just finished reading a book about Abraham Lincoln last week. Truthfully it was rather depressing. He lived a hard life from beginning to end. Yet even in the midst of hardship and great turmoil he had the unique ability to focus in on what he believed to be right. The civil war was all about preserving the union. It drove him, it got him out of bed in the morning. It would have been easy to quit but he could not. Why? Because in his mind’s eye, even when others failed to believe, he saw what could be.

I suppose if I wanted I could offer quote after quote and give illustration after illustration. Yet, I won’t. Rather than do that I will mention something I strongly believe. Christians need to apply these two quotes to how they live their lives. Do not be satisfied with the present state of our world. Do not allow what some would consider to be insurmountable odds to drive you to inaction. Focus on what can be.

The sad truth is many Christians fail to live biblically. They allow culture and family history to dictate how they live rather than on the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible. I have to wonder, what would happen if a few people dared to dream about how God really wanted them to live and how God really wanted to the church to function?

 I know, I risk sounding a bit like an extremist but when it boils down to it, wasn’t Jesus? We are told time after time in Scripture to follow His example. Wasn’t Paul an extremist? He himself tells his readers on more than one occasion to follow his example.

  1. Alicia says:

    What a great post!!!! This should be read in Church, everyone needs to hear it, it is so true, and an awesome illustration to bring about your point!


  2. Robin Morse says:

    Amen brother!


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