A Community of Distinguishable People: Reflections on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

By Serenity Beaumont, Spiritual Life Division Head. Image can be found here.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10, New International Version

Lauryn Hill is an American singer, rapper, and illustrious songwriter who blossomed during the climax of 90’s soul music, and her style still lingers in the music we listen to today. What makes Hill incredibly unique to her generation of artists, and even our generation, now is the fact that she only released one solo album, in 1998. This one album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, won multiple awards and broke several sales records. The people of the 90’s appreciated the soulful and expressive melody Hill evoked through her music. Despite her African American ethnicity, all felt as if they could connect with her music because of the raw and authentic nature of her songwriting. The norm in the music industry, especially since Hill’s first project was so successful for the record label, is that she release more music. But she didn’t. And the question is why? Why would an artist who released a solo debut during the peak rap culture stop? 

In an interview, Hill states that her album first “started out as producing and writing music for other artists.” Many of the songs she had written for the album were ones she had originally planned to give away to other artists. It was later in the production of this album that she realized the message and persona of this album was really “about [her]” and how the album became personal to her. Essentially, Hill resolved to create this album for herself. And this reflection of herself through song and melody is something that people admired. Most artists today continue making music to ultimately make money. However, Hill did not just write music for this selfish motivation, but rather to touch others with her childhood through a catchy tune and beat. She was not a people pleaser conforming to others’ expectations. 

I believe God wants us to be like Lauryn Hill in that we do not seek to please others in the things we do. We rather make decisions for the glory of God and in the name of fame and fortune. God envisions His people, written in Genesis 12:2, as a distinguished community and a people associated with serving God. Similarly in Malachi 3:18, the author of this text reminds us that, as Christians, we should be distinguishable from the righteous and the wicked. When people look at us, they should be able to dusintsh who “who serves God” and “one who does.” This requires us to act differently from others in order to clearly display this distinction and our faithfulness to God, no matter how difficult it might be.