The Science of the Servant-Leader

By Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who…by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity… Philippians 2:5-7 CSB

Did you ever get a note from your child’s school and secretly hope it was about anything but a project?

Minor behavior infraction. Please let it be a minor behavioral infraction.

Oh, that four-word note that casts dread deep into the heart of a parent: SCIENCE NOTEBOOK DUE MONDAY. Because bye-bye, weekend.

It’s funny how we try to convince ourselves that it’s NOT going to require more from parent than from child. Denial is interesting that way. I would eventually work through the stages and make it to acceptance. Acceptance that it’s a weekend of glue—and lots of it. And some researching, some clipping, some labeling and some Extra Strength Tylenol. Maybe also some crying. Not sure whose.

Those assignments do require much of us. But there’s a lovely science involved when we experiment, observe and conclude that in even the smallest life minutiae, as we lead responsibly, we’re teaching how to become responsible leaders. At the same time, as we serve well, we’re demonstrating how to be selfless servants.

How do we lead responsibly? The truth is, I can only lead well as I’m God-led.

How can we model servanthood? It’s an undeniable fact that I can only serve well as I’m God-empowered by my Servant-King.

Paul’s “schooling” in Philippians 2 has inspired and convicted me regularly since I was a teen (and working on my own science notebooks). “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others,” (vv. 3-4, CSB).

Everyone should look out not only for his own science notebooks…

I do think one of the best tests of how “servant-y” my heart is at any given moment is my willingness to lead in not expecting to be treated as a leader. By not insisting on status or recognition or payback or anything at all in return. By not asking for even a free weekend or an A+. The real question: Am I willing to serve when it’s probably going to cost me—even when it’s going to cost me deeply and dearly?

The next verses in that Philippians 2 passage reveal my assignment—my motivation and my empowerment. It’s all in Christ Jesus.

“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity” (Philippians 2:5-7 CSB). It was a servanthood that took a King all the way to a humiliating cross. And when I “adopt the same attitude,” and allow this glorious Servant-King to work in and out and through me, I can bypass the denial and the crying and any other misdirected response. Bye-bye, pride.

No hypothesis about it, in raising our kids, those times pride was in check, weekends were grand—project or no project. You should also know that I’m mostly kidding about the projects I did with my children. Because in the middle of a lot of tears, toil and Tylenol, we had concentrated time together on a project weekend we might not have had. In essence: Hello, weekend. We explored a sweet handful of topics together. I had five kids, so that does mean my fingers were a little bit glued together on a lot of Mondays. That’s okay. Especially since on that last science notebook, I got an A. I mean my son. My son got an A.

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The Science of the Servant-Leader – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novel, Turtles in the Road, co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What lessons have you learned about leadership?

The Answer is in  Your Cell Phone

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

In your distress you called and I rescued you. Psalm 81: 7

It happened again today, a friend, a leader, called to share that their marriage was over. My response was sadness and a little curiosity, so I asked, “You had our cell number, why didn’t you call for help?”

The answers we have received to that question over the years have included:

We thought we could handle it (so at some point you must have realized you couldn’t).

We didn’t want anyone to know how bad things were (but now the whole world knows of your divorce- that seems worse as far as PR problems go).

Only one of us wanted help (but one can often make a difference as it brings change to a relationship).

Our friendship with you is too important to us, so we didn’t want to spoil it by sharing our personal lives (by I thought being “real and authentic” was the definition of friendship).

We thought it might cost money (and a divorce is cheap? Counseling is a small investment, and often in a community free or nearly free help is available).

If you hit a rough patch, pull out your cell phone. Chances are you have at least ONE person with a strong marriage in your world  who would be willing to mentor you, a pastor who would be willing to shepherd you, a therapist willing to counsel you, or a family member willing to walk alongside you. 

Shame wants you to sweep issues under the rug. Shame isolates you from those who love and care. Shame inspires you to make up excuses. Don’t listen to the voice of shame. Desperation is a better voice. Be desperate to find the best, most quality, most experienced, or most caring help you can find. Be desperate like the woman with an “issue” that came to Jesus:

A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years, who had spent all she had on doctors  yet could not be healed by any,  approached from behind and touched the tassel of His robe.  Instantly her bleeding stopped.

What were Christ’s words to her? Were they filled with condemnation? Anger? Frustration? No. He simply said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48, HCSB).

Show that kind of faith. If your marriage hits a rocky patch, pick up your cell phone and call someone. If you can’t locate someone in your world willing to help, then call a ministry you appreciate. They likely can help you find a clergy member or counselor in your area willing to answer your call for help.

Lord, give us the courage to desperately defend our marriage. Help us combat pride and call out when we need help. Give me the faith to reach out for help trusting you will send someone who cares. Amen.

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The Answer is in  Your Cell Phone – encouragement from @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrelAbout the authorPam Farrel is the author of  Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, as well as books to help couples in crisis: Love, Honor and Forgive and 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make. If you are a couple in Crisis, there is help at Marriage On the Rocks? Try Again blog.

Join the conversation: Have you ever reached out for help when your marriage was falling apart? If not, what stopped you?

Tested by Praise

by Elaine Helms

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips . . . each is tested by the praise accorded him,” Proverbs 27:2, 21 NASB.

When I was in real estate, I learned fast that I needed to let people – potential clients – know about my accomplishments and why I would be their best choice to help them buy or sell their home. The better I did, the more the company praised me and promoted my expertise. The problem arose when I began to read and believe my own press. I thought, “Yes, I am pretty wonderful!”

God gave me the test of success and I failed miserably. “The Lord tests hearts . . . The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him” (Proverbs 17:3b, 27:21 NASB).

After I failed, being full of pride, God did not abandon me. He used strong followers of Christ in the same business to be an example for Him and to open my eyes to how to handle both promotional and genuine praise. God began to bring only Christian sellers and buyers, so my focus and conversations returned to and about Him.

Several years later, the wife of a couple I had served in buying and selling several properties, told me how thankful she was – that God put me in their lives when He did to draw them to a closer walk with Him. What? I thought God used them to draw me back to focusing on Him!

How like God to put two truants together to help each other get back on track with Him! We both laughed when we discovered what He had done, and agreed that God has a sense of humor.

God had called me out of real estate into church prayer ministry by that time; but being in full time Christian ministry does not exempt us from pride. Spiritual pride can also quickly slip in when God gives us an added measure of His Spirit to speak His word boldly or to impact a group. Name recognition grows the more God blesses…and His testing begins again!

How can we navigate the temptation to pride? Jesus gives one answer in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:16, NASB, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Go Back to the Basics

We can ask God to help us focus on His glory rather than our own. Reading the Bible and spending time with the Lord in prayer helps us be alert to the allure of pride. Memorizing Scripture can fill our thoughts and illuminate when we puff up our own image.

Practice the Presence of God

By practicing the presence of God we can consciously keep God on the throne of our hearts. It’s important to remember who is in control and who is giving us the power to do anything meaningful. When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, self will become less important (see Matthew 6:33).

Help Others

We can take our attention off of ourselves by trying to help someone else succeed. It all belongs to God and when we humble ourselves before Him, He will exalt us in the proper time (see 1 Peter 5:6).

When our focus is on God and not on ourselves, pride loses its grip on us and it becomes easier to give the glory where it belongs – to God.

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Insight when we’re Tested by Praise – from Elaine Helms on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Elaine HelmAbout the author: With her passion for God, humor, vulnerability and spiritual strength, Elaine Helms encourages audiences and readers to draw closer to God and live the abundant life Jesus came to give His followers. Prayer Coordinator for My Hope America with Billy Graham 2012-2013, Elaine has 30 years of experience in church, national, and interdenominational prayer leadership.

The 10th Anniversary edition of her book, Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Prayer 101: What Every Intercessor Needs to Know by [Helms, Elaine]Know was released in 2019. This comprehensive guidebook helps with discovering how to pray as God intends – with eternal impact. Journey through Scripture, find inspiration in stories of others, and learn simple yet effective strategies for prayer. www.ChurchPrayerMinistries.org

Join the conversation: What is your best tactic for avoiding pride?

Persona Non Au Gratin

by Rhonda Rhea

Do you know how glorious it is to speak at an event that’s directed by a thoughtful and gracious event coordinator? Those are the trips that are somewhere near heaven. Ah, to be chauffeured about, fed the best meals from the finest restaurants, then transported to a posh hotel, only to find a gorgeous gift basket already delivered to the room. Bubble bath waiting. Bed turned down. Mint on the pillow. It’s good to be queen.

Okay, no one knows as well as I do that I don’t deserve to be treated like a queen. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it, does it?

You know when I truly realize I’ve been unduly treated like royalty? When I get home. It’s like a whiplash back into reality. One second I’m signing books and greeting the complimentary crowds, the next I’m walking in the door to kids who barely manage a deadpan, “Oh Mom, it’s you. I’m glad you’re home–‘cuz we’re out of bread. And somebody must’ve spilled a bunch of milk inside the fridge ‘cuz it smells really nasty in there.”

It’s then I’m suddenly “persona non au gratin”—no longer the big cheese. It’s so funny that I can go straight from the applause of a gracious audience to cleaning the cat box.

While I admit I love my short reigns as queen, I have to tell you that there’s something quite comfortable about coming home to bread-fetching, milk-mopping and cat-box-cleaning servitude. Living with an entire brigade of pride police really isn’t a bad thing.

Humility can be so tricky. Once you realize you have it, it’s probably a point of pride—and then it’s gone! The best way to stay humble is to stay focused on Christ, our example. We’re told in Philippians 2:5-8 to have His attitude. “Let this same attitude and purpose band humble mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus:  Let Him be your example in humility. Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God, possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God, did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, but stripped Himself of all privileges and rightful dignity, so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself still further and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!” (AMP)

Jesus was true royalty, not the temporary, speaking-event kind. He is rightly called the King of all kings. Yet this passage tells us that He didn’t hang on to those rights as royalty. He pushed them aside on our behalf and took on servant status. Imagine leaving the splendor of Heaven (beyond any five-star hotel we can picture) to serve and unselfishly give His life.

I really do want to be like Him. I want to humbly serve before any crowd. And I want to humbly serve as I load my shopping cart with four gallons of milk. The Message phrases Proverbs 15:33b this way: “First you learn humility, then you experience glory.” By His grace, there’s glory before the crowds. I truly believe that in humble surrender, by His grace, there’s glory in the cat box too.

“. . .Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What keeps you humble?

Photo by Annie Theby on Unsplash

The Wrong Kind of Love

by Jennifer Slattery

It brings out the ugly in me. It makes me fight to be right, to demand that I elevate myself and seek accolades and admiration that feed my pride but often starve my soul. It causes me to avoid difficult conversations and engage in those I shouldn’t. But worst of all, it distorts Christ in me.

You might be surprised that love is actually the root of this nasty, unity-destroying behavior. But not the biblical kind of love.

Self-love.

1 Corinthians 8: 1 says, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” (NIV) Knowledge, when lacking love puffs us up, like a puffer fish with its cheeks swelled and spikes protruding—demanding we elevate ourselves at the expense of others. But love, agape love, the kind that flows from God, doesn’t focus on self at all.

About ten years ago, I began to ask some hard questions regarding my faith and the credibility of the Bible. I wanted to know—was Jonah really swallowed by a whale? Was there really a worldwide flood? Did Lot’s wife really turn into a pillar of salt?

Those questions led to an in-depth study I soon wanted to share with others. My motive to teach stemmed from my love for God and His Word. Each week, I’d meet with a group of women while volunteers taught our little ones arts and crafts. The discussions and interactions between the group members were beautiful.

But then “Sue” arrived. Right away she began to challenge my teaching. As I reacted to her confrontational behavior, it wasn’t long before I was more concerned with saving face than keeping the group’s focus on God. It became all about winning the argument. It wasn’t long before the pleasant, Christ-centered discussion among a handful of moms had turned into a tense battle over words.

Pride (self-love) pulled me in when I should’ve walked away. My lapse in judgment allowed the woman to dominate and divert the focus of the conversation. I had veered away from the selfless love that comes from Christ.

At other times I’ve erred in the opposite direction, like when I watched a young lady become enslaved in legalism and drift away from Christ while I remained silent.

I had numerous opportunities to speak to her, but did not, in fear that she would become angry and our relationship would crumble. Once again, I acted in self-protection. It was just another side to self-love. She’s since abandoned the faith entirely.

Truth and love are intertwined.

How do we know when we have crossed over into the dangerous motivation of self-love? We do a heart check, asking God to cleanse us from anything within that could get in the way of kindly speaking truth or responding to someone in anything less than the love of Christ. When we seek, He will be faithful to show us when bad motivations eclipse those that reflect agape love: the pure, self-less love of Christ.

“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 5:1

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who addresses women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog. Jennifer has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Join the conversation: When has ugly self-love reared its ugly head in you?

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A Message to Remember

by Rhonda Rhea

I’ve discovered something rather disturbing about myself:  I’m a salad dressing whiny-baby. It’s not like I’m even all that into salad. I think we all know I’d rather have chocolate. Or coffee. Or chocolate mixed with coffee. But the other day I found myself with a salad that needed something that neither coffee nor chocolate could fix (though it took me several minutes to come to grips with that). So there I sat trying all the salad dressings. All of them. I even mixed a few—like some sort of mad scientist. The first dressing was too tart. The next one, too sweet. Then the next one was just too…orange.

That’s when I figured out that I was not so much a mad scientist. No. I was Goldilocks.

When did I become so dressing-spoiled? It doesn’t even comfort me all that much that I’m not the only one. God’s chosen people had wandered in the desert for 40 years because they had chosen not to trust the Lord. When they finally stood poised to enter the land of promise, instead of the “now you can all relax” message they might’ve expected, they got more of a “don’t get too spoiled” warning.

“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command…When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, HCSB).

In the verses just prior to these, the people are reminded to be diligent in their obedience to God because “the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey,” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). Olive oil and honey? They were headed into the best salads with all the best dressings.

The entire chapter is full of “remembers” and “don’t forgets.” And it’s not just the Israelites. It’s so often in our times of greatest blessing even now that we forget our Lord God is the source of that blessing and that “every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” (James 1:17, HCSB). Anytime we forget, the blessing loses its sweetness. Pride replaces recognition of His provision and our satisfaction in life sours.

When we catch ourselves going all Goldilocks-y, it should trigger our reminder to…well…“remember.” “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord you God gives you the power to gain wealth,” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18, HCSB).

Remembering that every good blessing is from Him helps keep our obnoxious pride in check and reminds us to lean on Him for everything. It reminds us to love, follow, trust and obey. And that adds blessing upon blessing—whatever we do, wherever we go—whatever is on the menu.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll excuse me. Salad is on the menu again here and I’ve decided to make my own dressing. So now it appears I have to travel to a thousand islands.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits.  Psalm 103:1-2, ESV.

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Rhonda’s book, Fix HER Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God-Renovated Life,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What are the blessings you want to remember as you start your new year with Him?