The Drum Major Instinct Sermon Outline



Dr. King outlines on scraps of paper his great sermon based on Mark 10:37. Everyone wants to be first, to get attention, he says, starting with our first cry as a baby. Adults want to do good and be praised. If the drum major instinct is not harnessed, the personality is distorted and we become boastful, gossip, put others down. On a societal level, this leads to exclusive social groups, racial prejudice and war. King states that Jesus’ answer is to dedicate this great force to worthy ends – goodness, moral excellence, generosity, kindness and service. .

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The Drum Major Instinct Sermon Outline
Monday, February 5, 1968
Transcripts & Translations


[Underlined: The Drum Major Instinct] Mark 10-37 We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be imp[ortant], to surpass others, to achieve distinction to lead the parade. Jesus and John dreamed, as all Hebrews of a coming King of Israel who would set Jerusalem free, establish his court on Mount Zion, and in righteousness rule the world. (1) We begin early to ask life to put us first. Our first cry as a baby was a bid for attention. All through childhood the drum major instinct is a major obsession. Children ask life to grant them first place, they are little bundles of ego. (2) In adult life we still have it. We like to do something good, and we like to be praised for it. The warm glow we feel when we are praised is vitamin A to our ego. Praise has never made anybody unhappy. We like when we know we don?t deserve it. [Page 2] 2 (3) The presence of this instinct is why so many of us are joiners (The first Grand Noble, The Worthy Grand Patron, the little fellow who is henpecked at home needs a chance to be the Most Worthy of the Most Worthy somewhere. (4) the [princer?] of this instinct explains why we are so taken by advertisers. a: We often live beyond our means. We get pushed into so many things by people who understand our craving for significance. A: If one does not harness the drum major instinct he will totally distant his personality (1) boast too much (2) lip about who you know (3) engage in erroneous gossip (4) become criminal in order to gain a sense if imp[ortance] (5) end up pushing others down in order to push [your]self up [Page 3] -3- B. The uncontrolled drum major instinct leads to snobbish exclusivism. (1) The danger of social clubs fra[ternities] sororities etc. We often satisfy our hunger for imp[ortance] by joining something that seems exclusive, a clique. It tickles our vanity gives us a delicious sense of superiority. (2) Race prejudice, by reason of white skin ordained to be first. (3) The drum major instinct in nations leads to war. America abusing its power. [Circled: 1] What was Jesus answer. Thine great force must be dedicated to worthy end[eavors] If you want to excel, excel in goodness. If you want to be first, be first in moral excellence. Be first in generosity, kindness, service. I cant give you greatness, nor make you first. You must earn it. True greatness comes not by favoritism but by others. The right hand and the left are not mine to give, they belong to those who are [prepared?]
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