4 Values To Teach Kids from the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr

I Have a Dream - Civil rights movement

We remember Martin Luther King Jr. for leading the African American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s. He worked to end segregation—the separation of black people from white people in schools, restaurants, and other public places in the United States. He also fought for equal rights for people of all races and skin colors.

More than 50 years after his death, Martin Luther King Jr.’s words provide powerful reminders for our still-broken country, and for us as individuals. 

We can remember Martin Luther King Jr. today by recalling some of his most famous words and reflecting on how they can inspire us to live and love better. In fact, King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, in regards to remembering him on his birthday, said:

“The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.”

Even more, the values Dr. King stood for were biblical! Today we’ll look at just four themes of MLK Jr’s life, some Scriptures that they reflect, and consider how we might apply them to our family’s life today.

4 Values To Teach Kids from the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr

1.  SERVICE

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Read God’s Word:

Hebrews 6:10 NIV “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

John 15:13 KJV “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”

Practice:

Gather as a family and share simple acts of service each person can do today: At school. At work. In the neighborhood. At home (sometimes the hardest!) Like Dr. King said, “anybody can serve!”

 2.  EQUALITY

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Read God’s Word:

Galatians 3:26-29 NIV “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Practice:

Go on a nature walk and look at all the different trees and leaves and flowers. Talk about how God makes so much variety in His creation, but as people, we are all equal before God. We can encourage one another to treat all people with kindness and respect. We are all more alike than we are different!

3.  LOVE

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Read God’s Word:

John 8:12 ESV “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Matthew 5:16 ESV “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Practice:

Turn off the lights and when everyone’s eyes have adjusted turn on a flashlight to show the power of a small light in a dark room. Discuss the power of light in a dark place. Talk about how love is like that light. Pray about ways each family member might use love to drive out hate.

4.  SELFLESSNESS

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Read God’s Word:

Philippians 2:4 ESV “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Proverbs 3:27-28 ESV “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.”

Practice:

Can you honestly answer Martin Luther King Jr.’s question: “What are you doing for others?” It’s easy to get busy and begin to focus on ourselves, but it’s never too late to switch our focus! Make some plans and pray about ways to be a servant to others.

God is so good to give us not only His Word but to allow the words of others to inspire us toward love. Let’s slow down this week to thank God for Martin Luther King Jr. and consider how we might reflect what he boldly stood for in our own lives.