Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Today's Servants

Leslie Basham: When you’re a servant, you’re making a powerful statement.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’re never more like Satan than when we’re serving out of a desire to be recognized, and we’re never more like Jesus than when we’re serving with no need for recognition, no reputation seeking, just wanting to lay down our lives for His sake and others.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

Over the last six programs, we’ve been in a series called “Serving Like the Savior.” We’ve seen some incredible examples through the Bible of servants. You’re about to hear about some incredible modern day servants.

We’ll hear a conversation Nancy had with some friends who listened to Nancy teach in servanthood. You’ll hear from Holly Elliff, Judy Hurt, and Kim Wagner. And you’ll hear from Kathy Helvey who has gone home to be with the Lord since this recording was made. She was a servant through the end of her days. Nancy begins with an example.

Nancy: We’ve been talking about the qualities of a servant’s heart, what it means to be a servant of Christ, and then to serve others. Diakonos—ministering to the needs of others. I’ve been blessed by your servant’s heart, Kathy, I still have in my freezer a loaf of banana bread that showed up at my front door one day with a precious card from you, and I’m getting ready to enjoy that.

Kathy Helvey: I thought it might have sat out there for a month while you were gone.

Nancy: No, it didn’t, and that was just a little thing that was just a big thing, so timely. I’ve been blessed by ways that you women around this table have been a servant to me and to others. As you think of a servant’s heart, who comes to mind? How have you seen somebody demonstrate the servant’s heart of Christ within the ministry of the body of Christ?

Kathy: The first person for me is my mother. My mother is a perfect example of when we get together, “Where should we go out to dinner? Where would you like to go? Well, what should have to eat? What would you like to eat? What kind of pies should we do for Christmas? What kind would you like to have?”

There is never an inkling of anything she wants. It’s always about anyone else, and now that she’s eighty-six years old and has different things going on in her life . . . She lives alone, still drives; she goes to the convalescent home and pushes people in wheelchairs that are younger than her to be a blessing to them.

Nancy: That is great.

Holly Elliff: We have a gal in our church named Sherry, and her husband leads our praise team. Almost every Sunday morning, between the two services, she cooks a hot breakfast, brings it to the church, so that the praise team members who have come really early can eat between services and enjoy their meal. She doesn’t want anybody to know that she necessarily does that. She gets no reward for doing that. She does it because she is a servant, and she has a servant’s heart.

At one of our praise team retreats, she did all the meals for the praise team retreat. At the end we took up some money to give her a gift. She was mortified that we dragged her out of the kitchen and applauded her because she was so comfortable being behind the scenes, serving. She was in the realm of her gift. She’s very, very comfortable there.

Kathy: Another person that comes to mind that has just recently come into our life, her name is Judy Hurt, and she has become a caregiver for our autistic daughter, Stephanie. Three days a week she’s out in the community with her doing various and different things. But Judy just doesn’t babysit my daughter. She goes the extra mile. She listens to her; she talks with her. She thinks of different types of things to do with her. She sends her cards and notes.

But she’ll never realize on this side of heaven what a blessing she is to me. She has entered into my daughter’s life and in doing that and has endeared herself to me forever because she is blessing our lives as parents. I cannot think of one person in my daughter’s twenty-one years that has ever taken such an interest in her and has loved her and wanted to really know her as a person.

The other day she told me, “Stephanie just has the cutest little personality.” I thought, Personality? You have actually dug deep enough to see a little personality there? I can’t even find it sometimes, and I’m her mother. So she’s an incredible blessing to me, an incredible blessing.

Nancy: What our listeners don’t know is that Judy is sitting here in the audience. “You came here just to listen, but you’re sitting here with Kleenex wiping your eyes. What are you thinking as you’ve heard what Kathy just shared what you've meant to her?”

Judy Hurt:Number one, it’s been such an incredible joy. I had no idea the joy I was going to feel in caring for Stephanie. When Kathy and I started talking about this, I had never even met her, and those people that know me know that I love to serve. But many times I serve because it’s what I want to do, and I get very easily off track.

But when this opportunity came up, it was so of the Lord. It was so beyond what I thought I would be doing next. Just knowing Kathy and . . . It’s interesting because in June in a Revive Our Hearts session, I was sitting two rows behind Kathy and I remember praying, “Lord, I enjoyed Kathy so much. I’d love to get to know her better. Is there a way I can get to know her better?”

Then when Kathy called me . . . I’ll never forget the day. I was driving in my car and I had to literally pull my car off the road because I was shaking. Kathy was asking me about looking for someone to serve in this way, to help her with her daughter. I said, “Kathy, I don’t know why I’m saying this, but what about me?”

Nancy: Has this stretched you and put you outside your comfort zone?

Judy: Very much. I can remember the first couple of times. I thought, How am I going to talk to this child? How am I going to relate to her?

Nancy: So you didn’t have professional training for this kind of role?

Judy:No. I was a preschool director at my church.

Kathy: What has so astounded me in your care for Stephanie is because you have had a lack of training; you, without even letting me know, have gone to a library and gotten books to read on autism, videos to watch on autism, articles you’ve read on autism, and you’ve shared some wonderful insights with me.

Nancy: Which is really the heart of a servant, not just doing what’s required but going above and beyond.

Kathy: I have come home several times and the laundry has been taken out of my dryer and folded and put in the basket. It was very interesting for Thanksgiving. We always have people over for Thanksgiving.

We thought, Who shall we have this year? So we were asking different people to come. I said to my husband and Stephanie’s younger brother, who’s sixteen, "Well, how about Judy and her husband, Kirk, for Thanksgiving?" And Robby said, "Well, that’s fine with me. She’s already family anyway, isn’t she?”

He had come home one day and there she was standing in the laundry room folding laundry. It so impressed him that she wasn’t just bringing Stephanie home and turning around and driving off and her job was done. She was hanging around being part of the family—an incredible servant heart.

Judy: I found that the times when I get the greatest joy in serving is when I am out of my total comfort zone. That’s because I am so aware it’s not me. I think that when we do things with the proper perspective and the proper motivation, there is incredible joy. It’s not just what I’m getting, but I sense that the whole reason of what we do is doing it for the glory of God.

Nancy: Judy, what you’ve just said so beautifully illustrates what Jesus said when He said it is more blessed to give than to receive. You make it sound like it really is a privilege to serve, like it’s an honor to serve, that there is joy in serving—which is God’s way. We think we’ll get joy if somebody will come and meet our needs, but you’re illustrating that power of ministering to the needs of others and that really is the way that we find great joy.

Holly: I think it’s a real challenge for moms as well to teach their children to have grateful hearts. We had a funny thing happen this week with Jessica, who’s our youngest. She had decided to make cards for our neighbors. I was reading them. It snowed a little bit last night which is big deal in Little Rock. A little bit of snow is a big deal, and so when she went to bed it was snowing, and that was really cool.

In the card she said to our neighbors, “You have blessed my life. Thank you for being our neighbors.” She listed all their names, and she had made a little coupon and on the coupon it said this is good for twelve minutes of shoveling snow. I don’t know how much snow she thought there was going to be or how much she could shovel in twelve minutes, but I thought that is so cute that she just chose to make them a free coupon.

Now there was another neighbor, and she only gave them four minutes of shoveling snow. I don’t know what that means, but they were not as big of blessing in her life. That’s a funny illustration, but as I thought about that I thought:

As moms, we really have a responsibility to model for our children not only that service is a blessing and a good thing to do for other people, but the whole heart attitude that has to go along with it for it to be a good thing is a heart attitude that I don’t resent as a mom the fact that there’s laundry to do and food to fix and children to dress.

I have young moms say to me a lot, “I just need space; I need time for myself.” That is true, but what I think we need most is time for the Lord, and if we’re getting time with the Lord, many times, He provides what we need in our heart so that we can keep serving.

Kathy: Well Holly, what comes to my mind is how often have you heard, or have we even felt, when our children were younger, what about me? I don’t have a life of my own. I so agree with you. If there’s one thing, I remember a young mother asked me once, “What would you do over again?”

She had three little children at the time; mine was growing in their teens. She said, “What would you do over again if they were little?” And what came to my mind immediately wasn’t: “Well I’d play more with them. I’d take them to the park more. We’d read more books.”

Although all those things I wish I had done more. The most important thing that came to my mind was I would spend more quality time with God. Because out of that time with the Lord would flow wisdom, understanding, joy and peace, perspective. Not that I didn’t have time with the Lord, but oh, if I could do it over again, I’d make sure I’d had more.

Holly: Because we do get so weary that we don’t have the strength in ourselves many times to do what God has called us to do. That type of supernatural enabling only comes from the presence of the Lord.

Nancy: Isn’t that the point of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke chapter 10? Martha doesn’t have the perspective she needs. She doesn’t have the equilibrium, the stability, the sanity. Her getting flustered and distracted and out of control emotionally is because she is neglecting the one thing that Jesus said her sister chose which was the one thing that was absolutely necessary—to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him.

If I am serving, even within this ministry—giving, teaching, leading the ministry, writing books, doing all this traveling—and I’m not getting that time at the feet of Jesus, I’m going to end where Martha did. I often do end up where Martha did, and so do most women.

Kim Wagner: That’s the life blood for service is time with God.

Holly: Without that we do get out of focus as Martha did. We have a little motto at our house, and it’s very simple. People are always more important than things. So whatever I can do and still have a right heart toward the people in my house is worth doing. If things are so in charge in my life that I can’t love the people in my life, then I’m out of balance.

Kim: It is wrong to run around doing ministry if I’m not first sitting at the feet of Jesus and being devoted to Him, hearing from Him, and getting my direction for ministry from Him. Instead, I don’t need to go off on my own agenda, I must hear from Him to hear what He desires for me to do and receive that from Him.

Kathy: I think somebody once said your ministry is your life, and your life is your ministry. So if we’re sitting at the feet of Jesus, like Mary was, and getting ministered to by Him, we don’t particularly . . . I don’t think have to be in full-time Christian work, like many people think, to have a ministry or to be leading a Bible study.

Our life is our ministry to whoever it touches. But just as we all said here, if that’s not being filled by God, the fruit of the Spirit can’t come through our life to bless others.

Holly: One of the dangers of that is it’s sometimes easier to go expend my energy on someone else who doesn’t see me at home, and to neglect what’s going on in my house and the needs there for the sake of ministry someplace else where I might get more applause than I would in my own home.

Kim: It was really sad one day when a man came to my husband and I for marriage counsel by himself without his wife and said, “She is so busy doing Bible study. She spends so much time during the day studying her Bible, going to all these women’s groups and women’s activities that she doesn’t have time to cook me a meal.”

Holly: I think it was Elisabeth Elliot that said, "Don’t get so busy picking up your Bible that you don’t see the dust under your bed." I think for someone who is a wife and a mother, that’s a real critical balance.

Nancy: Don’t you find that’s a constant tension though? The pull to do things, the pull to tasks, the pull of our to-do list and our agenda, and then the pull of our heart’s desire is to be intimate with Christ. I find that every day in my life there’s a tension between intimacy with Christ and living out that heart of a servant.

Kathy: I think that is so true too, but the motive for why I serve, why I want to go out and serve, sometimes, is not very pure. I want to go out and serve so I can get a pat on the back. I want to go out and serve so that I can feel good about myself. But to really go and serve from the pure motive of I’m doing it for You, Lord, because I love You. And as Kim said, “I want that person to know You. I want that person to see Jesus in me.”

That’s a good motive versus I want the credit. I want the feel-goods.

Nancy: I love that song that Steve Green used to sing, "To love the Lord our God is heartbeat of our mission, the spring from which our service overflows."

So loving Him is that spring out of which our service for others flows.

Holly: And I think that’s we’ve said in several different ways here. If it’s not flowing first out of that love for Christ and what He is doing in our lives, ultimately the focus is going to end up on us.

Kim: And it’s not pure. It’s not pure worship.

Holly: Right.

Nancy: That’s what makes serving a burden.

Holly: If the focus is on us.

Kathy: Then we’re going to expect them to praise us, thank us, give back to us. It’s all about me.

Nancy: That’s where pride and resentment come in.

Holly: That’s Martha in the kitchen, pounding the bread, saying, “Why is no one helping me?”

Kathy: I think with Stephanie, at one point, they said, before we knew she was autistic, they said she has pervasive development delay. They called it PDD. As I got older in the Christian life, I think there are three things that draw me away from the Lord more than anything. It’s: pride, disobedience, and distrust. And that’s PDD.

I think we as Christians have a disability that trips us up—it’s PDD.

Holly: We do. As long as we’re in these bodies, we’re going to have that disability.

Kathy: And "P" being the first one is pride—in so many forms. I hate it, and God hates it. Recently, I was just reading about Satan falling from heaven and the reason he did was because of his pride. In this one portion of Scripture, there were seven reasons why he was getting thrown out of heaven, and they all had to do with pride.

Isn’t it interesting that the thing that we as humans struggle with most is our pride because that enemy has been around from the ancient of days knowing it was his problem, too. He’s kind of carried it over, do I even go there?

Kim: Well, it is in our flesh because at the Fall. We desire to run our lives. We desire to be God. I mean, that is the temptation he put before Eve because that’s the temptation he fell to, his desire to be God. His desire to be in control. That’s the root of pride, and that’s what’s in us.

Nancy: Keep in mind that Satan was a servant of God in heaven. He was serving the Lord. He was the choir director in a sense in heaven, and what a picture of how insidious our service is if we’re consumed with self.

Satan said in essence, and doesn’t this happen in church music programs sometimes, I want to be the prima donna. I want to get the attention. I want my name in lights. I will be like God. I will be like the Most High. He exalted himself.

We’re never more like Satan than when we’re serving out of a desire to be recognized, and we’re never more like Jesus than when we’re serving with no need for recognition, no reputation seeking, just wanting to lay down our lives for His sake and others.

Holly: I was with one of our families this week when they had a new baby born. As I was looking at that child who was totally helpless . . . The antithesis of that pride is what Jesus did when He came as a servant, as a servant leader and stripped Himself of everything He had in heaven and came in a very demeaning way as a helpless baby.

Then throughout His life, He illustrated the exact opposite of what we’re talking about when we talk about that desire to be praised, that desire to be in the spotlight. He was always, always illustrating what it meant to lead but be a servant at the same time. You see it all the way through Scripture.

Kathy: A perfect picture of humility. Isn’t that the opposite of pride? And yet, humility doesn’t get a lot of press. When you see it that way, though, oh, you just want to be humble. You want to make sure you’re doing things from the right motive.

Leslie: That’s Kathy Helvey, describing what it means to serve like the Savior. She lived out that message up through the time the Lord took her home in 2010.

She was speaking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about what it means to serve like the Savior. Their friends Judi Hurt, Kim Wagner, and Holly Elliff were also part of that conversation.

They kept referring back to the teaching series we’ve been hearing from Nancy, called “Serving Like the Savior.”  If you missed any of the practical teaching you can read the transcript or listen to the podcast version at ReviveOurHearts.com.

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Tomorrow we’ll hear from a pastor’s wife from Dubai. She’s busy being a mom with young children along with ministering to women in the United Arab Emirates. She’ll tell you how to treasure Christ when your hands are full. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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