Servanthood vs. Being Used

Note:  Since this is the first post I have written after President Barack Obama’s historic win over Mitt Romney, I have to take the time out to say that prayer indeed works.

It has been a while since I have written anything on this blog.  I have noticed a pattern that whenever I am overwhelmed in other areas of my life, this blog is the first thing that I neglect.  Unfortunately, that is likely the main reason that my readership has not grown as quickly as I thought it would.  (It is certainly the reason that I haven’t brought in any major ad revenue, but that is another story for another time.)

For the past few weeks, I have been contemplating my current place in life.  Professionally, I have managed to book a few singing engagements, which is encouraging considering my mixtape aspirations.  Academically, things have been going well thanks to the acceptance of a few of my recent papers to conferences.  Socially, things have been a bit of a mixed bag between my recent breakup and the planning process for my birthday party.  However, my spiritual life has been lacking.  This is especially problematic considering my desire to be a servant of the Lord and my current role as a minister.

After dedicating some prayer to asking God about what was lacking in my spiritual life, he began to speak.  A few days ago, God showed me that a lot of my discontentment was rooted in the fact that I had once again allowed people to use me to pursue their own dreams instead of pursuing what He had set aside for me.  Yes, this discontentment is a big part of the reason I started this blog.  I figured that there were a lot of issues that ministers faced that were not being discussed and that I would not mind sharing my life with the world in an effort to bring exposure to these issues. Needless to say, I was intrigued, but not necessarily surprised.  I have a history of being used going all the way back to my childhood.

I thought I had a lot of friends growing up, but at some point, I realized that many of the kids in my neighborhood only hung out with me to reap the benefits of my being an only child–extra toys.  By the time high school came along, I thought things had changed.  Then I realized that I was the first of my friends to get a driver’s license.  Indeed, my popularity was directly linked to my access to my mom’s ’93 Honda Civic and later my ’89 Chrysler New Yorker, which had a history of breaking down in the strangest of ways. It’s no surprise that I didn’t keep in touch with most of those friends I had back then.

By the time college came around, I thought things had finally changed for the better.  After all, I had accepted my call to the ministry and found a more solid group of friends.  It so happened that I was once again mistaken.  Most of my ministry opportunities had to do with me shuttling people to Costco and other stores with my car in order to stock up for events.  (For the record, I had already figured out that music was an integral part of my ministry based on the amount of conflict that arose whenever I did something musical.  That church was interesting to say the least.)  It took a while after I graduated for me to realize that my ministry was more than the administrative details that I was assigned to explore back then.

Returning home from Philadelphia after getting my Master of Divinity degree, I learned that some things had indeed changed for the worse.  I was a single, educated minister enrolled in a PhD program.  By all accounts, I was becoming the person that many people in my community wanted to be around because of their erroneous perceptions of my supposedly heightened status.

Based on all these events in my life, I thought that I had learned to safeguard myself against this kind of treatment.  I could recognize people who were after my car, my status, or any of my other material possessions right away.  I was so focused on people using me for things that were external to me that I didn’t even realize the same things could happen with the internal.  That all changed when I began noticing that people were getting caught up on my appearance.  I had apparently grown out of my awkward phase at some point and was now being perceived as someone of above average attractiveness–a concept that I never saw coming.  (I’m convinced that it happened because I grew my hair out.)  It wasn’t just limited to women.  I had male friends who would try to get me to spend more time with them because they felt that my being around would increase their chances at picking up women.  (I also had one closeted gay male former friend come at me.  Not cool.)

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, God showed me one last detail.  People are using my gifts to their benefit without being forthright with me about their motives.  It hurts to realize that people are taking advantage of my desire to be a good servant of the Lord.  Still, I should be accustomed to it by new.  God has been preparing me for my whole life to deal with these situations.  Nonetheless, it is disturbing to see just how many safeguards I have to put up in order to ensure that I am doing God’s will for my life.  For now, my goal is not to view myself as a victim, but to stand up and regain my power.  I can already tell it’s going to be an interesting journey, but I’m ready for it.  At this point, anything has got to be better than the way I have been feeling lately.

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About Spencer

Spencer T. Clayton is a typical millennial who believed his mother when she told him that he was capable of accomplishing great things (and as a result has amassed a large amount of student loan debt). When he isn’t blogging, he is either out with friends, writing and performing music, or busy working as an Executive Pastor and Consultant while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Public Affairs.

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