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Vision that renews

by | Jan 22, 2022 | Martin Luther King Jr, renew, Vision

Is your Vision renewable?

Standing in the middle of the SMU Basketball court at barely 17, I was surrounded by tables labeled “Dedman College”, “Fondren”, and “Cox” which at least had “School of Business” in the name. It was the last day for “Registration” and I had a deck of computer cards, which at least I was very familiar with – what to DO with them, I was not. I had the college catalog that showed what a “Freshman Engineer” should take… but how did I get that to happen?

Renewing your vision through others

Raised to observe the systems around me, I slowly figured out what was happening. I had to sort out what days I wanted classes, what times, and then sort the cards into that order, and give them to people at the tables. Great – and of course, the classes I selected were… already full. Now what? I looked around and found someone that appeared to be mostly bored, and asked them how to get registration for classes finished. They listened to what I needed, showed me the way, and within a few minutes, I was renewed with what I thought would be a great schedule…

King had developed an interest in fashion, commonly adorning himself in well-polished patent leather shoes and tweed suits, which gained him the nickname “Tweed” or “Tweedie” among his friends. He further grew a liking for flirting with girls and dancing. His brother A. D. later remarked, “He kept flitting from chick to chick, and I decided I couldn’t keep up with him. Especially since he was crazy about dances, and just about the best jitterbug in town.” This would continue to renew him throughout his journey…

…and you may pick up their Visions

King witnessed his father stand up against segregation and various forms of discrimination. Once, when stopped by a police officer who referred to King Sr. as “boy”, King’s father responded sharply that King, Jr. was a boy but he was a man. When King’s father took him into a shoe store in downtown Atlanta, the clerk told them they needed to sit in the back. King’s father refused, stating “we’ll either buy shoes sitting here or we won’t buy any shoes at all”, before taking King and leaving the store. He told King afterward, “I don’t care how long I have to live with this system, I will never accept it.” In 1936, 2 years after his renewal at the Baptist World Alliance meeting, King’s father led hundreds of African Americans in a civil rights march to the city hall in Atlanta, to protest voting rights discrimination. King later remarked that King Sr. was “a real father” to him.

My father wanted me to be an engineer, but what kind? He was an Industrial – now called Systems – which he reminded me “was all of the hardest classes from each discipline”. His senior project was to design a complete concrete plant – given just a budget and the equation of how to convert rock into that. I had grown up around computers, seeing what they could do when deployed well. There was also a growing field of microelectronics – “chips” that were making things faster, smaller, and cheaper. When I figured out they were offering a Physics degree with the EE for no extra classes, I was sold. And being cheap, I took the full 18 hours that were covered for the same tuition as 12.

Visions are still grounded in what renews you…

MLK played freshman football at Morehouse. Although he was the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, King did not intend to follow the family vocation. Throughout his time, King studied under the mentorship of the college president, Baptist minister Benjamin Mays, a noted theologian, who he would later credit with being his “spiritual mentor.” King slowly concluded that the church offered the most assuring way to answer “an inner urge to serve humanity.” His “inner urge” had begun developing, and he made peace and renewed his ties with the Baptist Church. He believed he would be a “rational” minister with sermons that were “a respectful force for ideas, even social protest.” The summer before his last year at Morehouse, in 1947, the 18-year-old King chose to enter the ministry and was ordained even before graduating from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in sociology in 1948 at 19.

I had been very active in both church and politics in High School, and while there was a great Methodist Church on campus, there was not an organized Methodist “Wesley Foundation” that was so important to my parents’ and grandparents’ faith development. And good thing – the 18 hours was soon supplemented by a full-time job – working 40 hours and carrying 18 hours of engineering. And still fitting in a few other stories 😉 I slowly started to see that the world of business would be for me the same platform that the Church was for MLK.

renewing your Vision takes work… now…

The balance of Mentoring vs. Coaching vs Meddling is one I walk daily if not hourly. Your family and friends also are trying to keep that balance. Once, a leader was really in a box and saw no way out. He pleaded – just tell me what to do. After thinking for a moment, I offered my “advice”. He quickly responded – “Well that will NEVER work… But this would….” After a few minutes I went back and said – “that is why I Coach. You know the answers – you just don’t know you do.”

MLK knew his calling and Vision were here, but there are still a lot of stories before he gets where you know he lands. For us, we all are on a constant journey of renewing our Vision. If we don’t have one, it is typically inflicted on us. I hope you will dig deep, particularly now, seeing that this “ordinary” 19 year old is about to turn the world upside down. MLK moved attendees often with his singing of his favorite hymn. What’s your song? Today, my own incremental call for renewal -. “I Want to Be More and More Like Jesus”

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