The Servant Leadership of King

In preparation for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I wanted to learn more about the man we remember, mourn, and celebrate each January. So I headed to the library and rented one of King’s classic works: Why We Can’t Wait.

This book was written in retrospect of the Birmingham Campaign of 1963, a movement organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to shed light on the integration efforts of Birmingham African Americans. Throughout its pages, King eloquently discusses the causes of that momentous summer as well as its many triumphs toward civil rights in both Birmingham and beyond. Additionally, the book highlights King’s fervent conviction that racial equality and reconciliation could no longer wait to be achieved.

As I read, I quickly realized that King’s thoughts, descriptions, and anecdotes would provide a wealth of directions in which to take this blog. However, one theme in particular stood out to me, and that was servant leadership. Those words get thrown around a lot on the DBU campus, sometimes to the point where they begin to mean very little to us. But the fact remains that servant leadership is integral to mirroring the character of Christ, and what better way to learn it than studying servant leaders of the past?

While King demonstrated servant leadership in a variety of situations throughout the campaign, there is one moment that stands out as a beacon to guide those striving toward servant leadership. It came in the late spring of 1963. Just as the Birmingham Campaign was gaining momentum and attention, there came news that threatened the entire movement: the bondsman who had previously been supplying bail for all arrested demonstrators would be unable to continue this service. In the thirtieth room of the Gaston Motel, twenty-five prominent leaders of the campaign sat and questioned whether to proceed as planned and personally participate in demonstrations despite the new lack of bail money. With regard to this moment, King writes:

I sat there, conscious of twenty-four pairs of eyes. I thought about the people in jail. I thought about the Birmingham Negroes already lining the streets of the city, waiting to see me put into practice what I had so passionately preached. How could my failure now to submit to arrest be explained to the local community? What would be the verdict of the country about a man who had encouraged hundreds of people to make a stunning sacrifice and then excused himself? (King 79-80).

Undoubtedly, there were a host of reasons for King and his fellow leaders not to put themselves on the front lines and at risk of arrest. If they did, who would take up the torch to rally and lead the remaining demonstrators? Who would stand at the pulpits on Easter Sunday and preach the good news of Christ’s resurrection, which gave so many African Americans the hope they needed to challenge injustice? And perhaps the most frightening question of all, who would work tirelessly to secure another source of bail, which would be needed to release both leaders and hundreds of wrongly imprisoned demonstrators?

King had no answers to these pressing questions, and as he sat pondering them, avoiding arrest would have clearly seemed the wisest course of action. But this was not the decision he made. Instead, King told his fellow leaders, “‘I don’t know what will happen; I don’t know where the money will come from. But I have to make a faith act’” (King 81). Instead of excusing himself, King made a bold decision of faith in the face of uncertainty, which ultimately led to his imprisonment alongside the Birmingham demonstrators.

King acted as a servant by coming alongside his people as an equal, struggling toward a common goal. He displayed leadership by making a difficult decision and encouraging others to follow his example of faith. While some might argue that King’s decision to participate in the Birmingham demonstrations was unwise, the fruits of King’s imprisonment speak otherwise. Much like Paul, King’s time in jail was used by God in mighty ways. There, King drafted his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, in which he respectfully addressed and rebuked those who did not support the nonviolent direct-action movement.

Countless positive outcomes resulted from the servant leadership of King and many others during the Birmingham Campaign. Some of these include strides toward the desegregation of lunch counters and other public areas, plans to hire African Americans on a non-discriminatory basis, actions to release all persons wrongfully jailed for their participation in the campaign, and avenues for better communication between African Americans and Whites. Truly, without King’s willingness to be a servant leader, the city of Birmingham, and indeed America, would not be what they are today. While it is sometimes hard to believe, never doubt that God can and does call people like you and me to be servant leaders who change communities, cities, states, countries, and with enough faith, the world.

Written by Meredith

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King, Jr. Martin L. Why We Can’t Wait. 1964. Beacon Press, 2010.

To check availability or place a hold on Why We Can’t Wait at the DBU Vance Memorial Library, click here.

To find other works by King, click here.

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Calculating Your Way Through Life

Pre-Alegebra, Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Pre-College Math, Intermediate Algebra, Math for Liberal Arts, College Algebra, Finite Math, College Calculus, Elementary Probability and Statistics, Introduction to Linear Algebra, Analytic Geometry, Discrete Math, Math Content, Essential Geometry, Abstract Algebra, and the list goes on. Every high school and college is determined to cram as much math down our throats as possible before releasing us into the real world. As an English aficionado, I rebelled against the system as much as I could, by putting off algebra until 9th grade, squeaking out of high school without having to touch real calculus, CLEPing out of College Algebra, and selecting a major that only requires two math classes. I didn’t care how much my mother, teachers, and professors assured me that I was good at math or how many A’s were slapped on my Algebra exams. Three credit hours and a CLEP test later, I was gonna be done with math for the rest of my life… Or so I thought.

I graduated from pre-nursing here at DBU, and I had 8 months of freedom in the real world, until I would begin my two year adventure of nursing school. I decided to plan ahead and be productive, as my professors taught during their mere sixteen weeks with me each of my four semesters at DBU. I had heard from multiple sources that working during nursing school was nearly impossible, so saving up enough money with this eight months gifted to me should probably be a priority during my time of nothingness.

So, Responsible Michelle got a job; well, she got another job, technically, because she already had her marvelous job at the DBU Writing Center. She got a job as a medical scribe. But because she had two occupations, she started living like she had disposable income. She ate out with her friends several times a week, bought Starbucks whenever she wanted, frequented Sonic for her favorite Mini Reese’s Sonic Blast with M&Ms, bought Ed Sheeran tickets for her sister’s birthday, and otherwise lived like a queen, even taking her parents out to eat a couple of times. Then, one day, she decided to check on how her savings were going for nursing school, only to find they really had not grown at all. In fact, they were smaller than they had been when she graduated from DBU. Responsible Michelle learned that she was not responsible at all. Responsible Michelle then realized all of those math and finance classes she took in high school and college were not lying when they tried to teach her that if she spends more than she makes, she will not be able to save any money. Emphasis on tried.

Even as “Responsible Michelle,” she still needed a game plan. She didn’t work 40+ hours a week to enter nursing school in the same financial situation that she had when she had graduated from DBU. I needed (drum roll please)… a budget. (Insert face palm and crying emoji here.)

There were two ways I could do this. Thankfully, I had actually been paying attention in math class when budgeting was explained. I knew I could write down on paper all the needs, wants, and expenses I expected each month and assign appropriate percentages of predicted paychecks to each item on the list. However, I had a goal. I couldn’t just will-nilly buy every Starbucks, Sonic, and Ed Sheeran wanted. I had to save enough money to survive a whole semester just in these few months, no matter how much that Grande White Mocha with Peppermint was calling my name.

Seven hundred and fifty dollars per month is what I needed to save! With four of the eight months left I had to try to be responsible, the savings would total an additional $3000 dollars that could be added to the bank account. Problem: this would only leave, give or take, $250 dollars a month. (I see those raised eyebrows. I chose these jobs for the experience, not the money. If you can find a medical job that pays more than $8 an hour but does not require any certifications or medical training, let me know.) I had recently acquired a car, thanks to my parents’ moving overseas, but that now meant that I needed money for gas, oil, repairs, and insurance (none of which are cheap, when you often drive 45 minutes to get to work, believe me), in addition to all the other expenses I already had each month.

I grimaced as I opened the calculator on my phone. Why, oh why, had it come down to this? Enough complaining; I needed to get it done. So I got down to business. I added up the hours I would work in each paycheck, which differed every day because I rarely worked the same hours each week. I then remembered it was not as simple as taking that number and multiplying it by the number of dollars I made for each of those hours. Oh, no, the government had to take its chunk out of that hard-earned money first. Since I was paid hourly, I used an online website to do that part of the calculation for me. I did this for both paychecks for the month. Too much math to recount later, I had the amount of money I would earn that month.

Somewhere along this journey, I found the Dave Ramsey app EveryDollar (which I highly recommend, btw). I inputted my income information for September into this app, and I then started the process of subtracting out the things I knew would be charged to my account that month (sigh). There was a bunch of math required surrounding my car, from having to calculate the mileage of my car to calculating the number of miles I drove to and from work every day. Then I had to add in the periodic oil changes, insurance payments, and unexpected maintenance. The monthly payments for my child sponsorship and Spotify membership, and the yearly payments for Amazon Prime were also subtracted from this amount. I had so much math to do, but I did it all!

I finally breathed a sigh of relief. I had spent hours doing all of these initial calculations, but it was done. That first month, I could not go out to eat, buy another Starbucks, or really do anything that I wanted to do. But the next month, I was able to do a little more, and, the next, even more. I started catching up. Budgeting seemed horrible to me at first, like a grumpy parent that wouldn’t let me do anything. But I no longer second guessed my buying choices, and my heart didn’t sink when I had an unexpected expense. A plan was in place, and I put what I wanted and needed into that plan. My life was a little less stressful, as I knew I would now have plenty of extra money for nursing school, while still having enough for gas and groceries. I knew at the very beginning of the month how much money I needed to make when arranging babysitting jobs or extra shifts. My life had the structure it needed to make it easier now and more rewarding by achieving future goals.

Goodbye, oh beautiful Pumpkin Spice Latte with those crunchy orange sprinkles and frothy whipped cream. Goodbye, my sweet, savory PeiWei Original with Chicken and noodles, my love. My dear Ed, while I adore your perfect skill and sessions of thinking out loud together, there is a higher calling for those numbers in my savings account. I am on to better things, to higher things, things that, sadly, outweigh my love for all of you. My bank account requires more of me, a better me, and a version of me that understands what is really a priority in this life. I need to again become and further aspire to be Responsible Michelle.

Written by Michelle

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Finishing Touches

Finally finished. Relaxing your fingers on the keyboard, you lean back and let out a contented sigh. After hours of planning, seemingly endless typing, and extremely sore quad muscles from several trips down to the University Writing Center, you have finally completed that important paper… or have you?proof reading

Before you print out a final draft and head for that celebratory Mocha Frappuccino, be sure to proofread and revise your paper! I know, I know, the final touches seem excruciatingly unnecessary when compared to Starbucks’ chocolate version of heaven, but trust me… revising and editing your paper is ALWAYS WORTH IT!

Ideally, I would suggest waiting a day after completing your paper to begin proofreading and revising. However, the odds are likely that you’re a typical college student and MAY have waited until the last minute to start your major paper. No judgment; we’ve all been there. So, if that’s you, start by reading your paper backwards. Yes, sdrawkcab! Reading your paper from the last paragraph to the first will often help you to catch unnecessary word repetition, misspellings, and contractions.

Next, head over to the University Writing Center again to grab a copy of our nifty Proofreading and Revising Checklist. (OR, you can access it online here). Everybody needs a little extra guidance sometimes, and this handout provides just that. It gives some great ideas and suggestions to make sure your paper looks picture perfect by the time class starts.

Lastly, I would suggest asking a friend to look over your paper with you. Since you’ve already spent hours perfecting that stellar paper, it may be a good idea to get a peer’s feedback and perspective. If you feel a little uncomfortable reading to a roommate, you can always make an appointment at the University Writing Center (214-333-5474). The UWC helps students throughout all stages of the writing process (including the finishing touches), and we would absolutely love to read over your paper with you.

Once you’ve proofread, edited, revised, and feel confident about your paper, print it out and….

GO ENJOY THAT FRAPPUCCINO! You earned it!

Written by Leah

For more information on proof reading, revising, and other writing subjects, check out our Proof Reading and Revising Checklist handout and the Quick Reference Flyers page of our website!

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The Best New Year Checklist

Hold on! Before you use all of your Twitter characters to jot down your half-plans to “be your best self,” take a moment and go through this checklist to really start the year off right.

Create a list of best-three

This list should contain at least three of your favorite things of the year. These elements can include experiences, developing habits, people, and/or items that you are grateful for. You may even add more than three items to the list as you remember all of the awesome aspects of the year. Add as many things to your list as you can, and reminisce about the best parts of this year. My list of three includes starting a blog, starting a business, and moving into my first apartment.

Create a list of worst-three

This list should be the opposite of the previous list. This time, note your top three fails, obstacles, bad-habits, and other unsatisfactory components of the past year. This time, only jot down those top three. The goal here isn’t to make you feel bad about what went wrong but to accept it and begin making changes. Choose the top three areas from this year you would like to improve for next year.

Now, here’s the fun part…

Create a Vision Board for the New Year

A vision board is simply a compilation of photos, quotes, goals, and other items that foster motivation. Vision boards can be both physical and virtual and are meant to be displayed in a location that can be seen daily. Use your list of top-three’s to find images and quotes that inspire you. Use the list of worst-three to find images and quotes that counteract those items. Then, include your dreams, desires, beliefs and anything else you want to achieve in this next year. Finally, add your favorite image of yourself in the center, enjoying the lifestyle you created. If you get tired of your board make a new one and stay inspired all year long!

Purge, Organize, and Shop

Nothing says “new me” like a clean home, a decluttered closet, and some novelty items to bring in the New Year. Many who purge their junk feel ‘lighter’ and more confident in what the New Year has to offer. Take a couple weeks to go through your home section by section, and remove the things you have not used in the last year. By riding yourself the things you don’t need, you free your mind and your space to collect things that serve a greater purpose in your life now.

Celebrate

Whether at a countdown party, hanging out with friends and loved ones, or at home enjoying your favorite mode of relaxation, celebrate the success of surviving this year and celebrate the promise of the next one.

Written by Ashley

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Resurrection Song

Imagine yourself surrounded by loved ones on the eve of holiday celebration. Children are laughing and running around with joy. The family chefs are busy whipping up a delicious meal, swatting at sneaky hands trying to steal food before it’s ready. As you settle into a comfy chair, soaking in the warmth around you, a speaker clicks on, and Michael Bublé’s mesmerizing voice begins to fill the air:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Let your heart be light.

From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.

The atmosphere is perfect.

Except, of course, for the fact that the holiday in question is Independence Day. Steaks are sizzling on the Barbie, you’re trying to sunbathe on the porch, and somebody has the unholy nerve to play Christmas music in July.

Even on December 24 with Christmas just hours away, the thought of such a terrible act probably makes you want to scream. Society can’t quite decide if Christmas officially starts the day after Thanksgiving or December 1, but what we do agree on is that Christmas trees, stockings, and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” are not welcome year-round. As the argument goes, Christmas music loses its magic if it is played too often. Confining the holly jolly-ness to a limited season is intended to keep the songs special.

Unfortunately, I have to respectfully disagree.

Before you write me off as a heretic, let me clarify my definition of Christmas music. I refuse to play “Jingle Bells” or “Up on the Housetop” all year long because songs about Santa and snowmen ought to be limited to the final six weeks of the calendar. What I listen to 365 days a year is more appropriately titled Christmas worship music. Songs such as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Mary Did you Know?,” and “Silent Night” are different because they proclaim truth about the nature of Jesus Christ. It would be silly if we only sang resurrection-focused songs like “Forever” and “Glorious Day” from the beginning of Lent to Easter Sunday, and I find it a little bizarre that we do the same to “Christmas” worship songs simply because they primarily focus on Jesus’ birth.

In fact, the more seasonal music I incorporate into my personal worship, the more I’ve come to appreciate the powerful theology found in the music played in public malls during Christmastime. My favorite is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Refresh yourself on some of the lyrics from the classic Christmas hymn, and I think you’ll see what I mean.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave

 

O come, Thou Day-Spring

Come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Baby Jesus did not give us victory over the grave while lying in his comfy manger crib. He did not disperse the gloom of God’s people oppressed by spiritual tyranny or make Death flee in terror. The sweet little Jesus boy wasn’t the one who intercepted us as we marched blindly toward Hell. It was not until decades after that silent night in Bethlehem that Jesus would accomplish what the song illustrates. The manger was a critical stepping stone to something more: the empty tomb. It was not infant Jesus, but resurrected Jesus, with scars in his hands and feet, who defeated Death and gave his people victory over the grave. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is not merely a holiday song: it is a resurrection song. It’s a message of praise we should be singing on Easter morning: Rejoice! Rejoice because our victorious God is with us!

Sadly, I doubt worship leaders will ever be convinced to include “Oh Holy Night” in a February set list. That’s okay. The wonder of the Nativity is indeed a thing to be revered. Christmas is a consecrated time to celebrate when God, who exists outside of time and creation, willingly stepped into time and creation as a helpless baby. As with all musical worship, it is neither the style nor the words themselves that matter most, but rather the heart of surrender that accompanies it. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” can remain a Christmastime treat while still influencing worship year-round.

Though often forgotten, the narrative of Jesus’ birth is part of the overall Gospel narrative. Without a theology of Christmas, there can be no theology of Easter. Before the ground began to shake and the stone was rolled away, shepherds quaked at the sight of Glories streaming from heaven afar. Nativity songs must precede resurrection songs, and our hearts must always sing their words, no matter what season it may be.

Written by Savanna

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How to Write a Conclusion

Think about all the times that you’ve seen a movie or read a book that really captured your interest. You become invested in the storyline and begin to anticipate all the possibilities that could unfold. As the story progresses to the end, the excitement rises within you, only to be shot down by a horrible ending. We’ve all been in that place before. For movies and books, the ending is drastically important to the overall quality of the story. In fact, the ending can often make or break a story altogether. The same can be said of papers we write for college classes. The ending, or conclusion, is vastly important to the overall quality of a paper. Without a good one, the quality of the paper will decrease. This is why so many students struggle to create a conclusion: because they know how important it is to their paper. Although it might seem difficult to write a conclusion, there are simple ways to address it in order to turn your fear of a bad ending into a confidence in your final paragraph.

The first thing to realize about your conclusion is that it should always restate your thesis statement. This does not mean that you should copy and paste your thesis into your conclusion. That is actually a bad idea. Instead, you should find a way to rewrite your thesis in the conclusion so that it conveys the same idea. You don’t need to worry about making it as formulaic as a thesis statement. In fact, you can spread the ideas from the thesis into multiple sentences in your conclusion. For instance, you can take a sentence or two to hit every main point that is listed in your thesis statement. Regardless of the assignment, reiterating your thesis statement in your conclusion is the most important aspect to your ending.

Many times, when a student attempts to restate his or her thesis in the conclusion, the paper will get repetitive. This is yet another struggle when writing a conclusion; everyone is fearful that they are just regurgitating what has already been said. A simple fix for this situation is to take the main idea of your paper and spin it a certain way so that you avoid repeating what has already been said. For example, you can apply the topic in a personal way to the reader. Through this, you transition from a mere academic idea to the effect it will have on actual people. Or, you could evaluate the topic of the paper by focusing on your main idea. In doing this, you are reinforcing the argument set forth in your paper in order to affirm your ideas one more time. These are just two of the many ways to rewrite your main idea so that it is similar in content and distinct in style. By following methods like these, your conclusion should lack repetition and provide a fresh look at an idea that has already been communicated in the body of the paper.

The conclusion should flow from specific to general. It should begin with a specific reference to topic through use of the thesis before broadening out to the most general effect that the topic has.  So, the restated thesis serves as the most specific aspect of the conclusion and it comes first. Then, refer to the main points in ways that wrap them up nicely. This will provide the reader with a sense of closure on the topic at hand. In other words, you are closing the argument by finding concise sentences that complete the main ideas in the paper.

The final portion of a conclusion is the closing statement. At this point, you might find it difficult to create another sentence to add to your conclusion. Since a conclusion flows from the specific to the general, a closing statement needs to be the broadest sentence in the paragraph. By keeping this in mind, you may find it easier to create a closing statement. Also, you can be your own judge of this statement by putting it alongside the other sentences in your conclusion in order to weigh how well it traverses from specific to general. Basically, the closing statement of your conclusion should relate to your main idea in the most general of terms.

The conclusion poses its own unique challenges to the paper-writing process, but understanding the basics behind this final paragraph will help. Always remember to restate your thesis in a sentence distinct from the one in the introduction. Then, close out your main points in ways that helps your reader understand a sense of closure on the topic. Finally, end your conclusion with a statement that relays the main idea in a very general way. Before long, your papers might even have endings that rival some of the best conclusions ever to be written. In movie terms, your paper will have an ending like The Sixth Sense rather than Titanic.

Written by Jack

For more information on writing a conclusion and other writing subjects, check out our Writing a Conclusion handout and the Quick Reference Flyers page of our website!

If You’re Not Charles Dickens, This One’s For You

In moments filled with adversity for the writer who possesses a disposition altogether and entirely inclined towards penning with a style of excessive loquaciousness much to the chagrin of her surly critics, there exist a plethora of tactics available to the downtrodden authoress seeking to shorten her adjectives, adverbs, and so on, despite the fact that this is an insult of the most incredulous kind for someone who not only knows oodles of fabulous phrases, but possesses a knack for using them with dexterity and poise.

Geez, you may be thinking.

Most people seeing that sentence would get exhausted simply looking at its length. But don’t be too quick to judge; many of us, especially those who grew up reading Dickens, Austen, and Steinbeck, might not only enjoy this style, but could quite possibly prefer to write this way in their own works also. I’m preaching to myself here when I say that this style is not only excessive, but it’s honestly…not good?

Hear me out.

The “less is more” mantra truly applies to writing. Communicating a message well has never depended on it being long, wordy, or adjective-filled. In academic writing, news writing, and nearly all types of writing, save poetry and prose perhaps, in order for something to be communicated well, it must be expressed clearly.

Don’t panic, my fellow wordy writers. Writing concisely is not the same as writing without voice. Rather, seek to develop the voice through more succinct wording. I know that my writing style has drastically developed since entering college and being challenged with prompts that forced me to simplify my generally lengthy thoughts. But my writing has also improved exponentially. My writing is more clear, more enjoyable to readers, and altogether better than it was back when I insisted on using a Thesaurus for needless adjectives in every paper I wrote.

Let’s refer to the first heinously-long sentence of this blog as an example.

First, let’s identify the message of the sentence. Quick note: if you’re ever struggling to figure out what the kelp a sentence is trying to say, it DEFINITELY needs to be re-written. A handy exercise is to cross out any excessive words or irrelevant ideas and see which important ideas remain.

In moments filled with adversity for the writer who possesses a disposition altogether and entirely inclined towards penning with a style of excessive loquaciousness much to the chagrin of her surly critics, there exist a plethora of tactics available to the downtrodden authoress seeking to shorten her adjectives, adverbs, and so on, despite the fact that this an insult of the most incredulous kind for someone who not only knows oodles of fabulous phrases, but possesses a knack for using them with dexterity and poise.”

Using what words remain, it becomes clear that this sentence is trying to communicate that shorting and simplifying our writing can sometimes be difficult. But, hope remains, as there exist many “available tactics.”

Here are some possible revisions:

“For the writer who pens with a wordy style, there are a lot of ways for her to consolidate her phrasing.”

“Wordy writers often struggle to be more succinct; thankfully, there are several tactics available that help cut down sentences.”

“Wordy writers can shorten their sentences in many ways.”

Each of these sentences manages to communicate the same message, and they all do so in different ways. My voice still came through in each alternative, even though I was chopping down those SAT words I love so much.

By learning to “murder your darlings” as the saying goes, your writing will become more concise, be better received by your professors, and will generally improve. That’s a guarantee from a seasoned writing consultant, or your money back.

Written by Karoline

For more information on how to avoid wordiness and other writing subjects, check out our Avoiding Wordiness handout and the Quick Reference Flyers page of our website!

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