In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.

Phil. 2:5–7

It’s not easy, but if you desire a servant heart, consider starting with Socrates’ statement, “Be as you wish to seem.”

Submit your personal story or favorite illustration, quote, Bible verse, etc. that illustrates a specific virtue to [email protected], then click on the virtue of your choice on the Virtues page to see your story or the stories and illustrations of others.

July 17, 2021

I grew up in a mostly non-churched family, but my mother did take my brothers and I into town to the Episcopal church for a few years during my early to mid-teens. I don’t remember a word of the dozens of sermons I sat through, but I do remember Mr. Brewer and Mr. Swift, laymen who constantly were quietly serving the people of the church including myself, without pay and without recognition.

Mr. Brewer helped cook (along with his wonderful wife Rachel) church breakfasts, and then cleaned up and did dishes afterwards. Larry Swift patiently coached our pitiful church league basketball team, always encouraging us and even rewarding us, even when we would lose to the Catholics by scores like 112 to 4. Those men “witnessed” to me without a single word more than any evangelist ever could.

    —Art Nicklaus

July 3, 2021

“In general terms, service is a willing, working, and doing in which a person acts not according to his own purposes or plans but with a view to the purpose of another person and according to the need, disposition, and direction of others. It is an act whose freedom is limited and determined by the other’s freedom, an act whose glory becomes increasingly greater to the extent that the doer is not concerned about his own glory but about the glory of the other. . . . The Greek word for it is diakonos, which means literally “a waiter.””  — KARL BARTH

June 22, 2021

There are many versions of this story, and I’m not sure where it originated. This is told from my memory in my words:

“A person has a vision, in which he/she sees many people sitting around a banquet table that is loaded with every good thing to eat. But they are very sad and frustrated, because their eating utensils are so long, they can’t get the food to their mouth. And so everyone is wailing and complaining. Then the person has a second vision; same scene, same table loaded with food, similar group of people with eating utensils that are too long to be of any use…EXCEPT that this group of people are serving one another the delicious food with their very long utensils. Everyone is content and fed and appreciative of one another while they enjoy the banquet.” 

The 360 Degree Leader is a term coined by author John C. Maxwell in my favorite leadership book. The following article is titled “Why your most valuable employee is often your most invisible employee” and was written by Jeff Haden and published in INC. magazine on October 29, 2021:

As far as I know, Bob never came up with innovative ideas or suggested groundbreaking initiatives. He never volunteered to work in other departments or take on formal or informal leadership roles. He never spoke — much less spoke up — in meetings.

Bob flew as under the radar as was possible to fly. 

Bob worked for Randy, and whenever I happened to be in Randy’s office discussing weighty operational issues (read: hanging out), he never asked Randy a question. He never asked for Randy’s advice. He never complained or vented or tooted his own horn.

Bob just passed on information he knew Randy needed. How a customer issue was resolved. How a delicate ship date issue would be solved. How he would overcome an inter-departmental impasse. 

One day, after Bob headed back to his cubicle, I said, “He doesn’t say much, does he.”

“Nope,” Randy said. “He’s awesome. I wish I had twenty Bobs.”

That surprised me. Had I been asked to rank customer service reps in terms of performance, Bob would have fallen somewhere in the bottom half, mostly because he didn’t stand out. Shoot, he was nearly invisible.

But in the best possible way.

According to no less an authority than Mark Cuban, the people that tend to work for him for a long time are smart. They’re driven. They’re learners.

And they understand that the greatest value they can offer is to reduce their boss’s stress.

As Cuban says:

Anybody who reduces my stress becomes invaluable to me. The people who tend to think that they are invaluable are typically the ones who create the most stress by creating firestorms and creating drama and making things more difficult for me. If you’re a drama creator, you’re not going to do well.

If you are stress reducer, you’re going to do well.

We all know drama creators: People who, no matter how talented, create headaches as well as value.

Bob didn’t just create zero headaches; he also eliminated potential headaches. He handled problems before they became issues. He smoothed customer feathers before they became ruffled.

He did his job so well that Randy never had to think about him.

Randy did think about him, because he valued and appreciated him to such a high degree, but he didn’t have to think about him. 

Which, in Cuban’s terms, made Bob invaluable.

While you can’t add “Reduces My Stress” as a formal category on your employee appraisal forms, you should consider that attribute when you evaluate your employees. 

Why? Any employee who scores high on your informal stress elimination scale is likely to be a “quiet” performer: One who consistently does her job extremely well. Who always works well with others. Who never seeks credit for going above and beyond. Who is so good, she’s almost invisible. Except, now, to you.