Rethinking Privilege

If you are reading this in a free country, with sturdy shoes, shelter from the cold, and clean water just a few steps away, you – like me – are quite privileged. The levels of privilege are compounded depending on our skin color, education level, and gender.

Recognizing our privilege in terms of acknowledging that we won some kind of genetic lottery is different from acknowledging that it is a privilege to serve others. (Wordy but true.)

– One is about the advantages we’ve received by virtue of our birth & sheer luck.
– The other is about our perspective and how we see any given situation as an opportunity to serve.

A colleague recently told me that it’s her privilege to serve the mentally ill in her congregation. Another mentioned that officiating at funerals for the many 80-somethings in her church was a great privilege.

One example = personal advantage
The other example = servant leadership

Imagine a world in which we rethink privilege. It would change everything.


3 responses to “Rethinking Privilege

  1. Just had a talk with my kids about privilege. “It isn’t fair you were born with it and someone else was not. But you were. And pretending it isn’t there leads you to miss opportunities to make life better for yourself and others.”


  2. I wonder how many parents have this conversation – or anything like it – with their kids.


  3. I walked out early Saturday to get the paper on another balmy California morning, lazily mulling my options for spending the day, and for some reason was thunderstruck that I wasn’t warily espying tanks down the block or scanning the sky for attack helicopters, or groggy in a dungeon wondering whether I’d be tortured on this day. Instead, my big issues were about meaning-making activities, and the appropriate balance of reading & walking & family time. Maybe a movie & a swim? All good, all important, and all so confoundingly privileged. I suppose not ever getting quite used to that feeling, however regularly it still comes, is a good sign. And though it inspires me to serve, it also still makes me a little bit crazy. Thanks for this timely read.


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