‘Leaders serve,’ North Central College alumna tells MLK prayer breakfast audience

Jan 19, 2015

Leaders define themselves by their service to others, North Central College alumna Shawndra Brown ’06 Lucas told an audience of students, community leaders and others Monday at the College’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week Prayer Breakfast.

In her keynote address about King’s legacy, Lucas cited scripture and urged the audience to consider the question, “Who’s the greatest among us?”

“How we respond to this question determines how we live our lives,” Lucas said. “It determines what kind of student you are … what kind of friend you are. What kind of employee you are … How we respond to this question can either hold us hostage or it can set us free to live a full life.”

People who compare themselves to others and aspire to become the greatest run the risk of becoming narcissistic or self-aggrandizing, Lucas said.

“We literally run ourselves into the ground, comparing ourselves—our stuff, our money, our grades, our significant others, our accomplishments—to that of other people,” she said. “It’s the ‘I’m greater than you’ posture of our hearts that, if left unchecked, can lead to the ugliest of societal ills.”

Inspired by scripture, King said the greatest among us are those who serve others, “The greatest is … the leader who is like a servant, the one who takes the lowest position,” Lucas said. “When you choose to serve you always win.”

Lucas challenged North Central College students and others to define themselves by service instead of personal ambition.

“If you are not serving you are not leading,” she said. “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”

Lucas serves as director of Stride, a mentorship and advocacy program that empowers and motivates youth to gain traction as a student in their school community. She and her husband Todd are directors of Chicago Chi Alpha, a ministry that serves students on six college campuses throughout the city of Chicago.

Lucas, a Naperville native, graduated from North Central College with a degree in English and earned a master’s degree in education from DePaul University. She has been part of ministry and leadership experiences in England, Ethiopia, Slovakia, Poland, El Salvador, Canada and many U.S. cities.

The annual Prayer Breakfast on Jan. 19 was hosted by the College’s Office of Ministry and Service. Among the attendees was Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, the first Hispanic elected to hold the lieutenant governor’s position in Illinois.

“Minorities continue to have less access to education,” Sanguinetti said. “We should honor Dr. King’s work and legacy not just today but all year around.”

Sanguinetti was welcomed by North Central College President Dr. Troy D. Hammond.

“Dr. King once said regarding education, ‘We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education,’” Hammond said.

Nicor Gas is underwriting sponsor of Martin Luther King Jr. Week and Black History Month at North Central College.