One of our teachers mentioned this concept of your “childhood Imam.”
He referred to this concept of the Imam of the masjid when you were a kid, that person who maybe taught you to read the Quran, or first exposed you to the life of the Propjet (peace be upon him)…someone you grew up with.
And he said…it seems like our children won’t have thus person in their lives. They won’t have one Imam that they’ll grow up with, look up to, be taught by, and who they remember (for both his good features and his flaws, but who they remember, nonetheless).
In our current state, imams and those who serve the community seem to have a higher turnover rate. Two years here, two years there, and so on and so on.
Yes, there’s economic factors, and a whole picture to look at in terms of whether we’re providing enough for our leaders to live on, or to thrive on, yes…
But the point he wanted to make to us, us who had spent a little time learning our religion and trying to qualify ourselves a little bit more in order to serve our communities…he wanted to tell us to strive for something that’s so scarce these days: LONGEVITY.
Committing to one thing, and sticking with it.
It’s easy to do a limited run, to do a speaking tour, to bounce around and be admired from afar…
But sitting and teaching some kids, every week, over the course of several weeks, of several months, of several years, of a couple decades… this is where true impact starts to kick in.
Because the people you admired, the people who shaped you, the people who still haven’t given up on you, even when you’re far gone…they’re those 20-year mentors…those childhood imams who’ve been there your whole life, continuing to do their part.
Those mentors who take the time, LOTS of time, not one weekend course, one conference, one talk…but giving you one or two DECADES of dedication…that’s where the real work is gonna live.
It’s not glamorous. It doesn’t make you famous.
But what longevity does do, is keep you sincere.
Especially in this field of serving the community, and serving Allah…what else matters?
And what gets results, the results of the next life and this one…is nothing but sincerity.
So pick something (and yes, choose wisely), and once you do…stick with it.
We need you to.