What MLK Jr. Teaches us about Servant Leadership

By @GwynethJones – The Daring Librarian 

As an educator I was touched today by this article from Mr. James Perry, former candidate for the Mayor of New Orleans:

“Among the most important lessons I’ve learned from Dr. King is the example of servant leadership. A servant leader is one who offers an inclusive vision; listens carefully to others; persuades through reason; and heals divisions while building community.

It is easy to spot servant leaders. In a room where others are jockeying for attention, they are the ones listening to someone others might consider unimportant. When faced with a problem, they look for solutions that benefit everyone. When something goes wrong, they take the blame. When things go well, they share the credit. They tell everyone the same story, even when it is inconvenient or difficult. They know that they don’t have all the answers, so they seek advice from others. They work hard and inspire others to do the same.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is an example of a servant leader. His life shows the extraordinary power of servant leadership to radically transform a nation.

Our communities and our country need servant leadership more than ever. Deepening economic woes threaten the American dream for far too many working people. Racial divisions are embarrassingly persistent in too many aspects of our economic and social lives. Political despair is battering the uniquely American optimism that has made us a great nation.

There are precious few servant leaders in our current political environment. Many elected officials are more interested in personal power, individual legacy, and financial gain than in the sacrifice and commitment that servant leadership requires.”

From the Huffington Post

WOW…..does that not say it all?

As an educator, we have the honor to teach the next generation of servant leaders….it is our job and privilege to instill in them the passion to effect change and the empathy to think outside themselves. All educators….indeed, all school staff….must work together to teach teens that taking responsibility for our lives gives us total power in creating the kind of life we want for ourselves. Yup….taking personal responsibility and thinking of the community…..and you know what? After seeing my Murray Hill Middle School kids last week rally around raising funds for Haiti Relief?…I think we’re doing pretty darn good! But we can always do better!

I wish I was more eloquent….here…but wait! These dudes are!

“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.”
Albert Einstein

“It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it.”

“A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.”
Denis Waitley

Thank you for being an educator. Thank you for following your passion and commitment to making a difference in your school and community. For working every day to effect real change in our most precious of customers – our kids. Let’s be inspired by the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr not just on his birthday – but every day – throughout the year!


Gwyneth Jones, aka The Daring Librarian, is a blogger, a Tweeter, an international speaker, a citizen of Social Media, and a resident of Second Life. Gwyneth is a Google Certified Teacher, DEN Star, an elected member of the ISTE Board of Directors, and the author of the award winning Daring Librarian blog. Jones was named a Visionary Leader by Teacher Librarian Magazine and a Mover & Shaker by Library Journal Magazine. Her work & writings have been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Huffington Post. Admittedly, she’s also a goofball, a geek, and ridiculously humble.

Choose your Reaction!