Crown or Cross?

I’m preparing for a getaway with our Embrace Grace leaders. It’s the first time we have come together outside of our normal routine classes, and are spending a whole weekend bonding with each other, and spending time with Jesus. We have 4 Oaks Ministries coming to minister to us and to grow as a team at a beautiful ranch in Bells, TX – I’m SO excited what God will do in our hearts!

This week I asked some of our leaders what it meant to them to be a leader in Embrace Grace …. and then I reworded it to “What does it mean to you to be a servant in Embrace Grace.”

Leadership is being a servant. 

Over the last 4 years, I’ve noticed different patterns in myself for leadership. I’m doing constant “heart check’s” and evaluating that my heart is pure and humble. I always know that if I stop and notice that God has put the brakes on opening doors for this ministry, the first thing I do is check my heart.

Am I serving for the approval of man … or am I serving as a form of worship to my King? Am I serving humbly … or am I serving loudly? Is this the “Amy show?” … or is this all about Him? Am I serving for a crown … or am I serving for a cross? 

There are a few times within the last 4 years that I did a heart check and I had the wrong answers for above. As soon as I recognized this flaw within my heart, my heart check turned to a reality check and I asked God to forgive me. It would be almost instantly, the doors would start flinging open for the ministry again. Blessings would pour in – favor on our team and who we are ministering to – the broken hearted.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of making things about me in home, work or ministry: I changed 5 diapers yesterday and you only changed 3, it’s your turn.  I always to take the trash out in this family, why doesn’t someone else do it? I’m going to take the up-front parking spot today because I never get it. My boss never even said “thank you” for me working late the other night. I’m not going to wipe the tables after class because that is for the newer leaders that have not led as much as I have. I only want to help these girls in the class because the other ones are just too different than me. Or the worst ministry-killer ….

No one even notices everything I do around here, if it wasn’t for me, this place would be nothing.

Really, if you notice that all your thoughts involve, “Me, Me, Me” or “I, I, I” – then you know that a heart check is needed. 

We have the ultimate example of a humble servant. Jesus was the Son of God, came down to earth in an earthly body, and ultimately died the worst death … all for me.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Philippians 2:5-8 MSG

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.” Matthew 16:24 MSG

The ultimate form of being a humble servant, besides laying down His life, was when Jesus, my King, got down on His knees and washed His disciples feet. It was a bold display of being a servant. And He didn’t just leave it there. He could have just washed their feet and it would have been a major lesson for us all … but He took it a step further. He then told them to wash each other’s feet. This is a big display of love. Loving and serving each other, is a form of love and worship to Jesus … even our spouses and children … even the people in our life that are different than us … even the people that you might think are “annoying” … even the people that are hard to love.

Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.” John 13:12-17 MSG

I asked the Embrace Grace leaders to send me a few reasons why they serve … a few stood out to me:

We are called to serve, to lead and to be a beacon of light to the lost. It’s not about pushing or shoving anyone in a certain direction. It’s living every day as a living example of the amazing journey and triumphs of those who obey and follow God and what He does for those who passionately believe in Him. To show that if you walk in His light what you actually can have! Its not about what you receive it’s about what you give & being a living every day example of God’s everlasting, never ending and always faithful love. I release my pride I’m a living sacrifice. To all the lost, broken and weary; you can call ME your friend. Dylan

 Jesus has just put a love in my heart for people who are hurting and people who need to know Him – reasons He came in the first place!  Sharing who Jesus is and what He has done and can do, is one of the greatest joys in life to me.  From the very moment I heard about Embrace Grace, I was taken back by how much it is a representation of Him on earth.  I love that Embrace Grace is paving the way for The Church to respond to teenage pregnancy in a way that is full of grace, compassion and hope and free from judgment – the way Jesus would respond if age were still walking around among us! I am grateful to help serve the girls of Embrace because to me it awesome to be small part of a ministry God uses to change the course of so many girls’ lives right along with the lives of their babies.  I love seeing the girls “get it” and seeing them grow spiritually.  In the process, He continues to change me and and grow me, too! – Michele

I want my life to be a real example of Hope, to show God’s Love and to encourage. I want to full fill God’s purposes for my life and share my testimony. – Wendy

Can we all do a “heart check”? (and I’m doing it too with you) …

Jesus, search my heart and make it clean. Show me any depravity and pride I have hidden in there. Are my intentions in serving, humble? Am I serving to be noticed and recognized? Am I serving in a way that even if no one was around and no one was watching, and it was just me and you, I would still serve unto you and not unto man? Pluck anything out of my heart that is not of you – show me how to love like you have loved me. Forgive me for making it about me when I would have nothing without you. I love you. 

Love, your faithful and humble servant, Amy. 

“Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.” – Jesus. {Matthew 25:40}

Written by Amy Ford

One thought on “Crown or Cross?

  1. i have had the priviledge to have known you since you were a scared single pregnant woman. I have seen how God has worked in your life since then and what an amazing transformation and testimony it has been! Even though I know you are not seeking praise, I do want to commend you and let you know how proud I am at the woman you have become. You inspire me and I know you inspire many others. Praise God for showing you his grace at just the perfect time ❤

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