LISTEN: “The Ramp” Course for Young Men (Class 66 from the MLK Senior Institute for Young Men & Young Women)

Welcome to Class 66 of “The Ramp” to the Highway of Success course for young men. I am Daniel Whyte III, chairman of the National Association to Save Young Black Men in partnership with the Martin Luther King Senior Institute for Young Men & Young Women. The Institute aims to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Sr., commonly referred to as “Daddy King”, whom God used to raise the great leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Our purpose is to guide young men and young women, and help them get on the path to becoming kings and queens for the glory of God.

I am your instructor for this course and the author of the ESSENCE national bestselling book “Letters to Young Black Men”. We are using that book as the text and its study guide to guide you through the course. The study guide was developed with the help of Jamie McCallum (M.Div, Truett Theological Seminary) and Charles Garrett (M.Div, Southwestern Theological Seminary). This course is for all young men, but especially for young black men and young men of color who oftentimes have a “difficult journey” in this great country called America. I call this class “the Ramp” to the Highway of Success because my goal is to get you on “the Ramp”. As a man, you ought to be able to make it from there. Out of respect for you as a young man, my job is to get you on the ramp and point you in the right direction, not to tell you all the details once you get onto the highway of success. With God, you can do great things.

— Let’s Pray —

Today, we are continuing a study titled, “Think for Yourself!”

As we begin this lesson, consider these words from Michael Jordan: “Fear is an illusion.”

Let’s begin by reading the portion from Letters to Young Black Men which our lesson is based on:

In order to keep from going down the wrong path, in order to protect your family, in order to be the leader that God wants you to be, you must think for yourself and take responsibility for your statements, decisions and actions. My friend, trust me: it is much easier to be a follower than it is to be a leader. But it is much better to think for yourself and be the leader that God wants you to be — the leader who is going right and who is leading others right.

Now, please pull out your printed study guide or your digital study guide as we continue our review of these topics.

Let’s see what the Bible has to say about setting an example through your life or conduct. How do these verses encourage a Christian to conduct himself?

John 13:12-15 says, “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”

As a leader, you are to conduct yourself as a servant. This may seem a bit backwards, but people will be much more drawn to those who care for their needs and demonstrate compassion. Live your life in such a manner that you are quick to meet the needs of others and slow to expect your own needs to be met.

Titus 2:7-8 says, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”

As a Christian you are also expected to set an example in love. Now this is not the same kind of sensual, passionate love the world is so obsessed with. Rather, in 1 Timothy 4, Paul is talking about true, genuine love. To understand what characteristics comprise such love, read a section from a different letter of Paul. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and record every characteristic of love mentioned.

Imagine an individual who actually epitomized that true love. Would others not flock to be in his presence and treat him with the utmost respect? Such an individual would have great influence because he cared for others more than himself. Brother, this description of one who truly possesses love is not hypothetical. Rather, it is an attainable expectancy for all believers. As a Christian, the very spirit of God resides in your heart. If you allow Him to take control, you will be the influential leader you imagined. It all starts by making yourself less, so Christ may be more.

Your faith should be one that is unchanging and uninfluenced by the trends of this world. You have believed in the One and Only God whose ways are much higher than man’s ways. In order to walk in Christ you must be disciplined enough to study, remember, and apply His Word to your life. If you do not know the promises and truths contained in the Bible, you will be vulnerable to the philosophical, deceitful attacks that this world throws your way. As a leader, you must know what you believe and why you believe it. Simply saying that Christianity is the religion of your mother and grandmother will not suffice. Think for yourself. Delve into the doctrines of this faith and become well-grounded in the truth. This world will be much more willing to follow a man who claims the authority of God Almighty above that of his mother or grandmother.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue this lesson in our next class.

Let’s Pray.

In closing, Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win the Super Bowl and the host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”

Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people I grew up around said “being saved” was back then especially, in my community, is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, I’ll see you for our next class.