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The Drum Major Instinct Sermon Outline

Monday, February 5, 1968

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. .


Dr. King quotes Nels Frederick Solomon Ferré on the subject of death from his book Evil and the Christian Faith.

Questions Which Easter Answers

Dr. King writes a sermon entitled, "Questions Which Easter Answers." King asserts that while many people attend church on Easter because of its value as it relates to Christ, the true significance in Easter is in the fact that is makes one think of immortality; as symbolized in Jesus Christ.


Dr. King cites and comments on a passage from I Chronicles about the gods that are idols.

Who Are We?

Saturday, February 5, 1966
Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA, New York (NY), New York, NY, Illinois (IL), Chicago, IL, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Washington, D.C., Florida (FL), Alabama (AL), Montgomery, AL, VIETNAM

In this sermon Dr. King contemplates "who are we?" and "what is man?". He differentiates between the pessimistic attitudes of the materialistic understandings of man and the optimistic attitudes of humanistic definitions of man. King also states that man is neither all good nor all bad, but a combination. Man is both an everlasting miracle and mystery.

It's Hard to Be a Christian

Dr. King outlines his sermon entitled "It's Hard to Be a Christian." King asserts that in order for one to be a fully committed Christian he or she must subordinate their ego and prioritize their concern for God's kingdom.

A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart


"A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart" by Dr. King discusses the importance of creating a synthesis of opposites and characteristics of one engaged in shrewd thinking with a loving spirit.

The Mastery of Fear

This outline explains the direction of Dr. King's sermon entitled "The Mastery of Fear." In it, Dr. King explores the challenges and necessity of confronting fear.

Paul's Letter to American Christians


Dr. King writes an imaginary letter to modern day Christians from the perspective of the apostle Paul. In the letter, Paul praises his listeners for their technological advancements, yet reprimands them for their spiritual degradation. He encourages them to uphold Christian values despite outside factors.

MLK's Acceptance Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church

Montgomery, AL

Dr. King accepts his appointment as the new pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. His first time serving as head of a ministry, Dr. King admits that he has no pretense to being an extraordinary preacher and comes only with the claim of "being a servant of Christ."

MLK Sermon About Courage and Cowardice

The document is a single draft page from Dr. King's larger work "Strength to Love," with annotations handwritten by Dr. King. On this page, he discusses courage and self-affirmation.

What is Man?

Sunday, January 12, 1958
Montgomery, AL

Citing views from historical and contemporary figures, Dr. King asserts that the definition of "man" lies somewhere between God and an animal. Dr. King contends that, although man is limited by time and space, humans are not animals, because they have the capacity for rational thought. However, the central theme that Dr. King argues is that humanity is inherently evil and must constantly strive for high moral standards.

On Being A Good Neighbor


In Dr. King's sermon "On Being A Good Neighbor," he explains variety of stories that aid him in defining a good samaritan as an altruistic human being. He uses the path to Jerusalem and Jericho as a walking path where people must help others to accomplish one goal equality.


Dr. King explains that Isaiah 1:11 means God can’t be appeased by sacrifice but demands righteous living.

The Birth of a New Nation

GHANA, Alabama (AL)

Dr. King compares the ongoing civil rights struggle in the United States to the Hebrews' Exodus from Egypt.

Cooperative/Noble Competition


Dr. King writes a sermon on the topic "Cooperative Competition." King utilizes the biblical text deriving from Luke chapter 22 verse 24, which expresses how Jesus views competition. According to the text, Jesus thinks that competition is good as long as an individual competes with humility and serving others.

Sermon Notes: Christianity Explored

Dr. King discusses the various concepts of the religious body of Christianity. He specifically highlights the Christian perspective in relation to life, the Kingdom of God on Earth, and Jesus Christ.

MLK Draft: Man's Extensions

Boston, MA, California (CA), New York, NY, CHINA

Dr. King describes how man has invented tools to extend his knowledge: the telescope for his eyes, the microphone and radio for his ears, and the airplane and automobile for his legs.

What Shall We Do to Be Saved

This is an outline for a sermon given by Dr. King, entitled, "What Shall We Do To Be Saved?" It includes an intended introduction. The date and location for which this sermon was delivered is unknown.

A Knock at Midnight

Dr. King wrote this sermon for the Youth Sunday Services of the Women's Convention Auxiliary National Baptist Convention in Chicago on September 14, 1958. The sermon builds off of a biblical passage from Luke in which a friend visits a neighbor at midnight for three loaves of bread. Correlating the story to the modern world, Dr.

"The Drum Major Instinct" Ebenezer Baptist Church

Sunday, February 4, 1968
Atlanta, GA

The Drum Major Instinct, a sermon delivered by Dr. King at the Atlanta Ebenezer Baptist Church, frames the “instinct” as being responsible for the social ills of the world. Dr. King proclaims that racial inequality in America and the war in Vietnam are the result of nations engaging in a “bitter colossal contest for supremacy.” He suggests that the only way to end this “suicidal thrust” is to abide by an altered definition of the instinct – the definition of Jesus Christ.

Guidelines for a Constructive Church

Sunday, June 5, 1966
Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA, Alabama (AL)

In this sermon delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Dr. King spells out guidelines for the church: healing the broken-hearted, preaching deliverance to the captive (freeing people from everything that enslaves), and preaching the acceptable year of the Lord. The acceptable year of the Lord, he says, is every year the time is right to do right, stop lying and cheating, do justice, learn to live as brothers and beat swords into plowshares.

A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart

Sunday, August 30, 1959
Montgomery, AL, Alabama (AL)

An early foreshadowing of his nonviolent philosophy, Dr. King advises Negroes of a particular course of action they should adhere to in order to properly equip themselves to combat racial injustice. Seeking to avoid both complacency and hostility, he challenges those who desire self-satisfaction, as well as those who seek to pacify their oppressors, by proposing the idea of one having both a tough mind and a tender heart.

The Ultimate Doom of Evil

Dr. King outlines a sermon entitled "The Ultimate Doom of Evil." The text is derived from a Biblical text, which states that one should not fret over evil doers because God is our vindicator.


Dr. King expresses the power of God as being infinite beyond comprehension of man.

Loving Your Enemies

Sunday, November 17, 1957
Chattanooga, TN, Tennessee (TN), Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA), Montgomery, AL, Alabama (AL), RUSSIAN FEDERATION, GREECE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Washington, D.C.

Dr. King interprets Jesus' command to "love your enemies" and outlines how to accomplish this goal. He closes this sermon by relating the philosophy of love to the use of nonviolence as a means to overcome oppression.

Eulogy for Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Victims

Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL

This is Dr. King?s eulogy for three of the four young girls killed in the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. God gives man the right to exercise good and evil, King says, but God wills that everything will happen for the good ? that out of tragedy comes redemption. Martyred in the struggle for freedom, the girls have become symbols of the crusade and of the faith that sustains it. King speaks of forgiving those who murdered the girls and the need to transform the system, the way of life, and the philosophy that led to the bombing.

Shattered Dreams and Unfulfilled Hopes


Dr. King based this sermon on unfulfilled hopes and dreams. He focused on the story of the Apostle Paul and his wish to journey to Spain. Paul did eventually go to Spain but "as a prisoner and not as a free man." Dr. King told his congregation that they all faced unfulfilled dreams at some point in their lives.

Transformed Nonconformist

Sunday, January 16, 1966
Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA), Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL, FRANCE, CHINA, North Carolina (NC), GERMANY, VIETNAM

Dr. King discusses the importance of not conforming in a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King thoroughly discusses the hardships and the benefits that come with being a transformed non-conformist.

MLK Sermon Notes

Dr. King writes notes regarding the story of Jesus and the healing of the paralytic. Jesus asked the crippled man, "will thou be made whole?" Dr. King states that some people are happy to be crippled because they lack the responsibilities of life that a healthy man has, and many people cater to their needs, but cautions against this attitude.