Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Lord's Slave

While in Madrid, I found myself  in a conversation with a man I know fairly well (we work together in a different setting) and a man I had just met. The man I had just met asked how I was connected to the people who were leading the conference, and before I could answer, the man I know said, "She is the personal assistant of one of the men on the team."

My jaw dropped.

My eyebrows furrowed.

My heart sank.

I felt sick to my stomach.

I fought back tears.

And in utter confusion I said, "No I'm not. We are friends. Colleagues. Coworkers. I am not nor have I ever been his personal assistant."

A week later, I still feel angry as I think about the exchange. (I'm not bragging, I'm confessing.)

I have been trying to figure out how a man with whom I have served on a team for over two years has come to the conclusion that I am the personal assitant of another on the team. And I am starting to wonder if it is because I sincerely try to practice servant leadership. And when a woman takes the role of a servant it is easy to assume that that is who she is. Especailly when (as is often my case) she is the only woman on the team.

For example, this man will often email me with logistical questions about arrival times and reimbursements. I answer these questions because I am trying to be helpful, not because it is my job. But suddenly I'm realizing that he has been emailing me these questions because he thinks I am the assistant--that it is my JOB to take care of those things. So every time I've reserved a taxi for the team, or coordinated meeting times, or sent out reminders, this man thought I was simply doing my job as the assistant when in fact, I was doing things that needed to be done in an effort to serve.

How can a woman be a servant leader among men without being relegated to the role of an assitant? It seems like when a male leader demonstrates a willigness to serve it elevates him as a leader, but when a woman leader demonstrates a willingness to serve she is simply seen as a servant.

But then there is a deeper issue that surfaces, one that has me even more bothered: Why do I care?

Is my identity tied to being recognized as someone important? Do I need to be known as an equal? And if so, what does this say about me? 

It says that in some ways  I am still serving for the glory of me rather than for the glory of God. It says that I want my contributions to be recognized more than I want God's kingdom to be built. It says that I still care about my name, when really I exist to make His name great. Otherwise I would take joy, a secret delight, in being mistaken for someone's assistant.

So while on a global level, I want to advocate for the equality of women, on the personal level, I want to be like Jesus, who being the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing. 

Jesus, help me to have this same attitude! To make myself nothing. And next time someone thinks of me as an assistant rather than an equal participant, may my  heart leap with joy. For I am the Lord's slave, and so it is only right that I should be known as a servant. 

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