I proudly take any chance that I get to channel my inner Adele. Unlike the queen of feels, no one has been waiting for me to release this blog with the same amount of anticipation as they would have for the release of one of her albums. I haven’t been in hiding in England or raising a child. However, I do have things to say, and I feel like it’s been a long time coming.
Hey. What’s Up. Hello.
I sometimes find myself exhausted by introductions. I know that everything has to start from somewhere, but it can be tedious at times. At every stage of our life, we’re equipped with a response upon a first encounter with someone. I’ve introduced myself quite a few times, and here are some of the things I’ve said over the years:
5 Years Old: Hi, I’m Imani. I’m five years old. My brother is my best friend and want to be a doctor.
15 Years Old: Hi, I’m Imani. I’m fifteen. I like alternative music and shopping. My favorite subject in school is literature. I think I want to be a writer.
21 Years Old: Hi, I’m Imani. I’m from Boston. I’m a senior in college, studying Global Studies and Spanish. No, I don’t know what I want to do with my degree after I graduate.
We spout off what we want to do, what we like and where we’re from, without putting much thought into it. These are the standard questions that people initially ask about one another. Most likely, I’ll have to ask you the same questions again at some point, if I really want to get to know you. Personally, I’m more interested in your dreams and your weird habits than what you think you might have as a career in one day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome that we can choose careers that interest us and I want to hear about that too. In fact, there’s an entire institution dedicated to determining “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
In college, we care so much about the ‘what.’ What major do I choose? What will I do with it in the future? What will the consequences be if I skip class again? What will they serve for lunch in the dining hall? What can I do to ensure I never have to take a class at 8am? What do I have to sell to avoid eating ramen every night?
Why is there so much focus on what we want to be, instead of who we want to be?
At a recent devotional, this question left me deep in thought. Well, deeper in thought than I usually reside. I wondered why we don’t ask people this question more often. I know that it’s an odd question and would make some people uncomfortable. However, I much rather hear someone answer this question when I first meet them. I think I would learn a lot more about who someone really is if they shared who they want to be. Can you imagine hearing about why someone wants to be a caring person, when you first meet them? I believe in leading by example, so here it goes.
I felt overwhelmed looking at a list of things I was praying over. I want to be more confident. More in love with God. Less afraid. More patient. More humble. Less awkward. The list goes on and on. I realized that if I tried to focus on all of these things at once, I would get nowhere. So I looked at Jesus’ life for guidance.
He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 7-8
I want to be a servant.
I settled on this. I know that was a lot of build up for what seems like a lack-luster answer. Let me explain. In thinking more about who Jesus was as a man, I thought about how much he gave of himself. If you’re the Messiah, people are going to want a lot from you. Yet, Jesus was both Lord and a servant. He didn’t look to be the most liked person, but instead looked for least liked person and spent time with them.
A servant is someone who does all the work, without getting any of the praise. If a house is clean and the food tastes good, the master is the one who gets the compliments. They accept the praise, knowing that they have valuable help. In the same way, I want to act in such a way that God is given the glory. The qualities of a good servant encompass the things on my list. They are faithful to their master and live to please him. They listen for their master’s instruction. They are humble. No one cares if they are weird. They are selfless. A servant uses their skills to bring praise to who they are serving.
Are you still with me?
I’m a huge fan of checking in, and making sure I’m being understood.
I know that saying I want to be a servant is something, as a black woman in this generation, might seem backwards. In a spiritual sense, servitude is not about inferiority or the need to assert one’s rights. It’s about willingly giving your life to God to do his will. The only unfairness involved is found in the undeserved grace we freely receive. The word servant, outside of a Biblical context, has negative connotations, and I totally get that. Trust me, I grew up around many black feminists. They would have no problem if I said I wanted to help others more or be more generous, but the word servant would make them cringe. All that being said, I really don’t think there is any other word that is synonymous with my point.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
After reading this verse, I took some time to think about my gifts. One that that I landed on was writing. It was a gift that I had, for the most part, kept hidden away. I only shared the things I wrote if I felt comfortable with a person. After sharing something I had written with a close friend last week, she asked me “Did you just write that for yourself?” My response was “I’m protective of my writing, but I’d read it to someone else, if I felt they needed to hear it.” The minute those words came out of my mouth, something hit me. If I truly want to be a servant, I have to be willing to serve everyone, not just the people who I think need it.
So here I am, writing this blog. By no means, do I think that I’m going to become a servant simply by sharing my thoughts. This summer, I learned a lot about serving in the ministry and fulfilling the needs of different people. Now that I’m back in school, I didn’t want to abandon the idea because I felt like I had less obvious people to serve. Several people have asked me to write about my experiences, and I’ve always found a way to politely decline. A really good servant doesn’t need to be asked again and again. They anticipate a need, and do it before they are asked. I’m not quite there yet, so that’s why this blog has been a long time coming. I’m facing one of my biggest fears and releasing my thoughts into the world because faithful servants do the work, whether they want to or not. I have no doubts that I have already, and will continue to fail in trying to be a servant. Luckily, I have a master who is gracious and kind. I also know so many servants out there willing to help me learn, and I can mirror their examples. This is just one part of the kind of person I am trying to be. You’re welcome to stick around to see what happens.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Hi, I’m Imani. I want to be a servant.