In the Bible, there are very few times in which God's people owned slaves. However, there are MANY instances of them having servants.
A man or woman who was a servant was usually so because of a debt that was owed.
Today, if you work for an employer, it is because you are paying off a debt. Bills are forms of debt. If you are employed, then you are a servant.
As a servant - or employee - today, you have the opportunity to start your own business and be the boss, thus working your way out of servitude.
A slave has no hope of ever having freedom unless his master wills it. A slave's sole purpose is obedience, and that includes servitude.
A servant, on the other hand, can buy his freedom. A servant has the freedom to choose his master, in most cases. A servant can rise up to the master's level eventually, whereas a slave will never have such opportunity.
The Bible teaches us to be good servants. It teaches us how to serve God, and how serving man is vital to our service to God.
In Chapter 21 of Exodus, we will be talking about servitude, slavery, and women's roles in society, as well as women's rights in the Old Testament, and how that effects us today.