Since it was the King Holiday weekend, I was definitely interested in what David Oyelowo would say about the honor and the burden of portraying this heroic figure in “Selma the Movie”. Oyelowo shared the tremendous amount of work he put into understanding Dr. King (Martin) the man. While many know him through his soaring, inspiring and anointed speeches, Oyelowo sought to understand Martin, “the man”, as a husband, as a father and as a friend. In order to do this, he studied a plethora of speeches, articles, and biographies; nevertheless, his most informative sources were primary sources, Dr. King’s friends. Consequently, after sitting with Andrew Young, John Lewis, and others, he concluded that Dr. King was a man of action, a man for the people, a comedic prankster, a man who often spoke of fear as well as uncertainty, and more importantly, he was a man committed to listening to God. Overall, throughout the progression of his life, Dr. King seemed to be a man driven by purpose, not popularity and prized awards.
However, today we live in a society that has been poisoned by a culture of self-proclaimed celebrities. While social media was designed for networking and staying connected with friends, it has contributed to the cultural disease. Social media has unexpectedly given a platform for uninformed minds to spread ignorant thoughts. In addition, social media has caused many to see themselves as a superstar in their own little world, allowing their identity and status in the world to be determined by the amounts of “likes” or “followers” they receive on a daily basis. Sadly, this secular culture has infiltrated the spiritual community as well. Spiritual leaders are often more concerned with expanding their brand than with serving others. Instead of developing as a servant leader based upon the example of Christ, we have resorted to serving our own interests. We see people as a means to our predetermined ends rather than an opportunity to serve with Christ-like compassion and love. Dr. King was a good example for spiritual leaders today. For me personally, Dr. King’s role as a spiritual leader, as told to me from the creditable perspective of Mr. Oyelowo, truly inspired me to steadfastly pursue God’s will for my life and the ministry He has entrusted to me.
Here’s why! Consider Dr. King’s life in the year 1965. During this time, Dr. King was at the pinnacle of his extraordinary career. He had given his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, as well as received the coveted Noble Peace Prize. Furthermore, Dr. King had been offered a position in the White House by President Lyndon B. Johnson to promote his “Great Society” agenda, which focused on combating poverty. Yet, with all this fame and notoriety, Dr. King chose to come to Selma because it was the ideal place to continue to serve the people, as well as to fulfill his divine mission. He like Moses, by faith, chose to suffer affliction with his people rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin (note: Hebrews 11:24 – 25). What happened to this type of leader? Where can we find this selfless spiritual leadership today? Well, it’s not on “Preachers of LA”!! If Dr. King had a twitter account, how would he use it? To promote himself or the God who called him? If he had Facebook, would he seek to challenge us or to condone us? If he had Instagram, would it be full of selfies or service to humanity?
So, I asked Mr. Oyelowo, “What advice do you think Dr. King would give to spiritual leaders in 2015?” His reply was simple but profound. He said, “Spiritual leaders should hear God! Whenever spiritual leaders fail to listen to God, they are bound to fail.” Dr. King felt passionately about hearing God’s voice so that he wouldn’t subsume to the distractive voices of the enemy attempting to pull him away from his calling. Those voices calling him to choose paparazzi over purpose. Those voices beckoning him to seek self-promotion rather than uplifting his brother. Those voices trying to detour him from the hard road of service to a smooth highway of fame. If leaders focus on listening to God and fulfilling His purpose, His voice will drown out the demons seeking to destroy us through self-glorification. We must commit to hearing God so that we can do His will on the earth. Charles Wesley’s hymn should still be the anthem of spiritual leaders. He wrote, “A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify, a never dying soul to save and fit it for the sky. To serve this present age my calling to fulfill, oh may it all my powers engage to do my Master’s will!!” So here is the advice for servant leaders….Hear God, Do His will, Serve His people!!! He will do the promoting, if you do the serving!! What do you think?