Note from PreachingToday.com: Last week we posted a previously unpublished Martin Luther King Jr. sermon called "Guidelines for a Constructive Church." This week, we asked a handful of preachers the following question: What aspect of Dr. King's life and work has had the greatest impact on your role as a pastor and preacher? In this article we feature answers to that question from Dr. George C. Waddles, Rev. Bryan Loritts, and Pastor John Ortberg.
Speaking Truth to Power
Dr. George W. Waddles, Sr.
Dr. King was known as a champion for justice, a powerful herald of God's truth, and one who was not afraid to speak truth to power. And he was committed to academic preparation. I am deeply sensitive to the need for strong education and being equipped with the knowledge of how to examine God's Word before one engages preaching and ministry.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a skilled orator. His mastery of the English language and his spiritual cadence as he preached God's Word and lectured still resounds in my heart today. His well-developed speaking and sermonic style highlights the importance of being clearly understood by the congregation or audience.
But perhaps the most important way in which his ministry and preaching have impacted my ministry is that through his example I learned to be bold, courageous and compassionate to speak biblical truth regardless of the consequences. His example helped to shape my approach to preaching and ministry as one that is not bought off by modern day Pharaohs and Herods, nor enamored with celebrities and people of influence who suggest that we quietly avoid controversial subjects that may offend our contemporary society.
It would have been easy in his day to quietly sit back and allow the hands of time to whittle away—ever so slowly—at the shackles of Jim Crow. There were many who suggested that it was just a matter of time before all things would be equal. I am sure that every day he battled the urge to quit. The odds against him must have seemed insurmountable. But there was an inner fortitude, a strength that was buttressed by the truths of God's Word that kept him.
Through his life we saw the incredible power of God's Word at work. His Six Principles of Nonviolent Resistance were not some philosophical musings. They were solidly anchored in the truths of God's Word, much of which is found in Jesus' teaching in Matthew, chapters 5-7. And it was the power of his Word at work that brought change—for a people, and for a country.