MLK on the Blueprint of Life

“What is your life’s blueprint?” Six months before he was murdered, Martin Luther King delivered a short but exceptionally insightful address on this question. As we remember him this Martin Luther King Day, this speech ought to be remembered alongside his more famous addresses. In just 563 words, delivered at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia, King points the way for anyone seeking a meaningful life.

To help people find the true meaning of life, he zeroed in on three eternal principles: understand your dignity, work hard to achieve excellence, and serve others like you’re on a mission from God – because you are. Yet he made these timeless principles timely, applying them to the enormous social and economic challenges that he was facing and that we, in many ways, still face. Today, the address reads like it could have been delivered 47 days ago rather than 47 years ago.

The starting point is to understand that meaning comes from order, structure and purpose. Life cannot have meaning if you make it up for yourself as you go. As King explains, “a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint,” and “each of you is in the process of building the structure of your lives, and the question is whether you have a proper, a solid and a sound blueprint.”

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Topics: Vocation

About the Author

Greg Forster, Ph.D. serves as the director of the Oikonomia Network at the Center for Transformational Churches at Trinity International University. He has a Ph.D. with distinction in political philosophy from Yale University. He is the author of six books, including Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It (2014).