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Kickass Couples Podcast

How to Develop Empathy and Understanding in Your Marriage – Ep. 109 SPECIAL PILLAR EPISODE – Servant Leadership

By June 28, 2023No Comments



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Kimberly Hoffman, Matthew Hoffman


Kimberly Hoffman  00:11

Welcome back, everybody to the Kickass Couples Podcast. We are bringing to you live today this special episode on our pillar number 10 servant leadership. What exactly is servant leadership? And that is a service that is a greater cause than one’s own self. So that’s the essence of servant leadership. And there is a quote by Robert Greenleaf that says the servant leader is servant first it begins with a natural feeling that one wants to serve to serve first, then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first. And so I want to talk a little bit Matthew about servant leadership, and what are some of the qualities of servant leadership? And then maybe we can talk about who some examples


Matthew Hoffman  03:55

We can do that. I know I think it’s important to understand. It’s a great discussion. This is one of our 14 pillars. You know, Kim, you said that already number 10. There are 14 different qualities that we think have to be present in a relationship and servant leadership, I think is one that is so misunderstood. And I want to kind of give a general definition so everybody knows where we’re coming from. As a servant leader, my first duty is to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being addressed. So that’s why we have it here. Because you need to make sure in your number one relationship in your marriage and your life commitment that you are meeting other people’s needs their highest priority needs first. That’s what a servant leader does. And I think you know, service first leader second, it’s not about me telling people what they have to do or saying follow me because I’m the one who knows it all. But it’s providing the service first. I think that’s really away from self. Right, Kim? I mean, I think


Kimberly Hoffman  04:57

Oh for sure. I think a servant leader has no ego, it doesn’t have a quid pro quo, thought that it is somebody who wants to serve other people and doesn’t need any recognition for it. They just do it because they love it.


Matthew Hoffman  05:15

 Because of who they are.


Kimberly Hoffman  05:16

That’s exactly right. 


Matthew Hoffman  05:17

Not because of what they get


Kimberly Hoffman  05:18

 It’s innate.


Matthew Hoffman  05:18

Or what they want to have. I think some famous servant leaders, you know, we’ll go it was take turns will kind of share some of these names. You know, Martin Luther King, Jr. was an incredible servant leader. I mean, he kind of dedicated his life to it. What are some others that come to mind when you think about? 


Kimberly Hoffman  05:32

Well, definitely Mother Teresa, right? We always hear and learn a lot about her and how selfless she was, and all the tremendous things that she did. And she just did them because it’s who she was. And it was just important to her to serve others.


Matthew Hoffman  05:51

Yeah, Nelson Mandela, somebody else that you can 


Kimberly Hoffman  05:54



Matthew Hoffman  05:55

think of. Right? Who else? Mahatma Gandhi? I mean, 


Kimberly Hoffman  05:57



Matthew Hoffman  05:58

But we know those are all like heavy hitters and people who this is like, what their life was about. So Kim, do you have to be a saint to be a good servant leader?


Kimberly Hoffman  06:07

No, I think that some of our just every day, friends and people that we know, family members are amazing servant leaders. And it’s just because again, that’s who they are. It’s what they choose to be.


Matthew Hoffman  06:23

Yeah, I think that you and I, in our relationship, we strive to do that, and be that we’ve been blessed in so many ways in our life. And I think that we both love giving of our abundance to friends, and also but individually as well, whether it’s knowledge, or support, or prayer, or you know, it could be finances, it might be time is that we are always looking for ways to give, not just outwardly but also inwardly to each other. So when you think about kind of Kim, what are the principles that make up servant leadership? Like what’s a concept that if somebody is good at it means it will help them be a better servant?


Kimberly Hoffman  06:59

I think one of the things is just listening to people, just lending that listening ear but not in a try to fix it sort of way or, you know, above, let me tell you, it is more of an active listening skill that people who really care and want to serve others, do. They just sit and listen and maybe shake their head and acknowledge or maybe even repeat back. So I understand you saying XYZ, right. And so that’s the really one of the greatest skills, I think of a servant leader.


Matthew Hoffman  07:38

I would agree. I think another one is building community. And that can be between your spouse with your partner, right? In your family, do you have a great sense of community meaning it’s we, we talk about things, we do things, we’re doing things that are good for the community, not necessarily good for self like Kim and I had, we live in a new community in Greenville, South Carolina, we’ve been there for two years. And we really wanted to get to know our neighbors a little better. And so we put together we got a couple other families that wanted to help us do this. And we had a low country boil. And the gift was given from these 5,6,7 families in the neighborhood to about 80 or 90 people. I’m a former restaurant tours, a sickness that’s dormant right now. I love to do that kind of stuff. But we had so much fun. Everybody involved by doing something that helped build community together. So a servant leader in the family in the relationship helps create those opportunities to build community.


Kimberly Hoffman  08:38

Yeah, and I think we can also add the growth of our family to the commitment of helping family members or people in general to grow. And so you know, we both are really big on serving other people. Right? And so how do we do that? It might be you know, we suggest a podcast that they listen to, or it might be helping them through, you know, a difficult time. And so I feel like we’re really open minded about helping other people to grow.


Matthew Hoffman  10:17

You’re looking individually. One thing that Kim does really well in our relationship is she sees people who, maybe there’s a new baby, maybe there was a death in the family, maybe somebody is struggling with loss or physical, personal or medical condition. And she’ll say, I want to take a meal to these people, because I think they’re having a hard time and we’ll do that, or, you know what, maybe we can cut their yard, or maybe we can run the kids around or take the kids for the night. Right. So it’s looking for those opportunities, which is, you know, you’re committed to their growth, you’re being a good steward, but having foresight, Kim and seeing a need before it happens, and then working to meet it just so that person feels loved and supported. Any other principles that you think are important?


Kimberly Hoffman  11:00

I think stewardship, and that is, you know, if you can, and are able to help an organization or someone, financially, that it we are called to do that. But I also believe that it can be your time giving of your time. And it could be to, you know, your children’s school, it could be to your church, it could be for a nonprofit that you believe in and want to support. So I feel like stewardship plays a big role in servant leadership.


Matthew Hoffman  11:33

Yeah and to apply that concept to the relationship, being a good steward with your partner, means you are looking at something that’s important to them something they want to achieve, and you’re being a good steward of their achievement by supporting and encouraging and being additive to the resources they need to achieve that right.


Kimberly Hoffman  11:55

You’re not tearing them down, 


Matthew Hoffman  11:56

You’re not tearing them down, you’re building them up.


Kimberly Hoffman  11:58

You’re not saying, Why are you doing that? Well, I don’t understand why you’re, you know, giving that that much attention, and you’re recognizing that that’s something that’s important to your spouse? And so you’re supporting them in their desire to help or do something for someone else.


Matthew Hoffman  12:13

And you’re not shoulding on them? You should you should you should, telling somebody what they should do, and trying to make them aware that is not it. I think, you know, servant leadership, I love this definition. It’s a virtuous cycle of service, meaning it comes around. You’re part of it, I’m part of it. And we are continually working and learning how we can have that cycle repeat itself from serving. And I love that because it’s not one and done. It’s not I did this, you do this, it means you’re working together, to serve each other, to serve others. And it’s a cycle that’s got a lot of virtue in it, and it keeps going on.


Kimberly Hoffman  12:55

Yeah, and how do we do that? In our own relationship? What does that cycle look like for you? Because I know what it feels like for me, but I want to hear from you. You know, what are some ways that that cycle shows up in our relationship?


Matthew Hoffman  13:08

You know, I mean, one of the one of the ways that you had a wonderful time to shine in our relationship, you do it a lot. But I mean, it was this was a long term, not like a one. Kim was president of the parents club and our kids school 1,250 kids, and it’s a year long commitment, right? The year before you do it, you’re the incoming meaning you’re learning, then you do it for another year. And then the third year, you’re outgoing. So it’s like it ramps up, it’s really hot and intense. And then the third year, even though you’re you were most recent, you’re still a resource, and you’re serving you’re doing and I actively said, How can I support her and that means more work at home, it means taking up a little bit of the domestic slack, because she’s not going to be around as much, helping more with the kids, maybe cooking a little bit more, right. I knew this was going to be a big commitment. And I didn’t begrudge it or complain. I mean, sometimes I was a little more lonely, maybe than I wanted to be. And I would let I go, Hey, I need a little time here. bave. But it was my joy to see her strive and grow and serve in such a beautiful way because she’s so stinking good at it. In fact, the headmaster of the school even said, you are going to be a hard act to follow because you’ve set the bar so high. And so I think that was that was a big example of servant leader but a little thing a little ones would be maybe you weren’t feeling well, maybe you were tired, overwhelmed, and I turn your alarm off and let you sleep. So you’re not getting up and having to get the kids going. And you got a little time to sleep in. You know, it’s just, it’s that’s kind of that looking and thinking about what’s coming and how can I be of service and it shows up and it’s not always an act of service. It might be, you know, supporting you spiritually and prayerfully when you’re going through a tough time and then maybe if I get inspiration, sharing something like hey, here’s a piece of scripture I find.


Kimberly Hoffman  15:00

Oh, you’re so good at that, I would say that you are the best when it comes to taking that leadership role in spirituality of just knowing when I’m down and sending me something that’s going to lift me up. And it could be something from the Bible, it could be a quote that you saw, it could be a song, you do it with songs, and you lift me up and support me with songs all the time.


Matthew Hoffman  15:21

I share a lot of songs. I’m a musical person. Yeah.


Kimberly Hoffman  15:23

And so you’re just so aware, you’re always aware. And I think a servant leader is somebody that is aware of what is happening around them, always with family, with friends with their spouse, they just recognize what is going on and what people’s needs may be in that moment. And you’re fantastic.


Matthew Hoffman  15:47

Thank you, I appreciate your recognition in that, it makes me smile. So I’m gonna turn the tables on you and say, what do you do in our relationship? What are the ways that you you see yourself fulfilling that role? With us? So for some of the women out there, can you hear some of your thoughts on that? 


Kimberly Hoffman  16:01

Well, I think some of the bigger things have been in that you wrote a book, and you ramped up for a big speaking tour and a book tour. And because we have a younger child at home, still, I wasn’t able to do a lot of that with you. And so supporting you leading up to that with helping with invites and helping plan, a big party and celebration after the tour. And then obviously holding down the home front while you were away. And just doing that with such love in my heart and appreciation for you and excitement for you. I’ve been sent little gifts along the way. And I could have, it could have been the opposite, though I could have looked at it. And there might have been a time in our relationship when I would have done that, that this is a burden. You know, you’ve you’ve left me at home, I have to hold down the whole the home front, we’re in a new rental space, we have, you know, dogs and kids. And just I could have looked at that in a very different light. But I chose to revel in it with you instead. And so that’s one of the things that that comes to mind because there was joy in my heart for us, for you for everything that was going on. And I think that it made for an exciting time for both of us.


Matthew Hoffman  17:19

Yeah, it was and she was a great support. I mean, I was on the road in our Airstream trailer giving talks at Rotary Clubs and promoting my book in Florida and there were gifts and she said, Okay, open this one gift now. And there was a letter and a note that came with it and a really cool, thoughtful gift to go along with it and just so supportive. And it was you know, I came home the one weekend I came home, I was gone for two weeks on this book tour. I came home and our parents were in town with us in our rental house, which was not the most exciting place to be while we were transitioning in our move. I got sick that week and I got food poisoning. So the weekend I came home to be with her and help out. I was sick the whole weekend. And I turned around left. And she was like that’s kind of a bummer. Not how I envisioned it. But you know what? It was what it was and she let me go and I got better just it was time to leave. And yeah, you know, it was a great example of that dance. You know, Kim, a lot of people struggle with assigning the proper meaning to the word servant of servant leadership. 


Kimberly Hoffman  19:28

Yeah, I feel like there’s such misconception around the word servant leadership. And that, you know, people really get hung up on that word, when in fact, you know, that’s not what it is at all. You know, people say sometimes it it has to do with bondage or that we’re in service. And when I talk service, we’re talking about forced service being made to do some aid to do something thing for someone else. And it really isn’t that at all. It’s very misunderstood. And I feel like, you know, it begins with the natural choice of feeling that you want to serve. It’s how you feel, not what you are made or forced to do.


Matthew Hoffman  20:20

Yeah, I think that’s great. And clearing it up. You know, one of the things that I adopted this a long time ago, and I get teased about it, but I say, when I do something for somebody, whether it’s my wife or friend, opened the door for somebody, oh, my gosh, thank you so much, I respond with my pleasure. Because if you know, our words are very strong. And when we say those words, we have to think about them, and we have to feel them. And so it is indeed my pleasure to serve my wife any way that I can, or a stranger or a friend. And I enjoy putting myself second and recognizing the value of others. And I would encourage you all, to think about your framing of service and being a servant leader. It’s not about being a doormat, it’s not about getting walked on. It’s about choosing to have an attitude of service to everybody you encounter, especially your partner. So they feel it.


Kimberly Hoffman  21:19

 I would even take that a step further and say, No, and understand your partner’s love languages and serve those love language languages well.


Matthew Hoffman  21:29

Yeah. How are you showing up for them in a way that they want, not the way you want.


Kimberly Hoffman  21:34

Be intentional about serving those love languages, because it will come back to you tenfold. And I’m not saying we’re looking at a quid pro quo relationship. We’re just saying that when you serve someone and you speak to their love language, they are just organically and naturally going to want to do that for you as well.


Matthew Hoffman  21:56

And I want to clear up alone another misconception, Kim, when the concept of wants and needs, being a servant leader does not mean you’re fulfilling all the wants of your partner, right? That’s like, I want you to get me a cold drink, I want you to clean the house, I want you to take this on, I want I want I want I want, right it’s are the needs being fulfilled. Because if your partner is fulfilling your needs, they’re doing a pretty darn good job. Because they’re making sure that you’re successful, your loved, you’re supported, you’re heard you’re understood, it is not about serving in the sense of I’ve got to take care of all their wants, you know, think about young children, they’re in the store, I want this, I want that I want to buy I want I want I want


Kimberly Hoffman  22:39

We can do that same thing in our relationships without realizing it.


Matthew Hoffman  22:42

No doubt. And I mean, if it’s the ones that have to be fulfilled, it is never going to happen. So let’s be real clear about making sure that we’re not confused about fulfilling wants, and needs. That is really the needs first, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to give your partner like hey, well, I really want to go have pizza tonight. Let’s go ahead peace. I don’t care where we go. That’s okay. But if you know you’ll have a never ending task, if you’re trying to fulfill all the wants of your partner, and you shouldn’t try it’s not what we’re saying. It’s not what servant leadership is really all about. And I think Kim, I think the best test of servant leadership like how am I being successful this was, you know, here’s the litmus test, if you’re being a good servant leader, do those who are served grow as persons as people? Do they while being served become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? If you can answer yes to those questions, then that is a great test that you’re being a good servant leader.


Kimberly Hoffman  23:48

Yeah. Don’t be concerned for your own good, so much as being concerned for the good of others. 


Matthew Hoffman  23:58

That is truth. And that’s, that’s a great biblical piece of scripture from First Corinthians, right. And, you know, are you looking out for others, or for your own good first, and I think that’s really that means the test and that’s a great way to kind of sum up this pillar. It’s a deep topic. And, you know, we is there for a reason in relationships, and we want people to know it’s important, and that you have to be intentional about it. If you’re not intentional about it. It is not going to come to the front when you do it. Yeah, be faithful with a little and the small. And then you’ll be prepared for the big stuff and celebrate your success. When you see your partner doing a great job of it. Recognize it, express gratitude for it and call them out for goodness and celebrate it we don’t celebrate enough. I think in our relationships, all the good stuff that goes on and servant leadership is is so important, but it can also be a fun journey. It’s not oppressive. It’s not difficult, but really when you are prioritizing your spouse, it’s natural to want to serve their highest and most important.


Kimberly Hoffman  25:09

 I would agree. I love this pillar. I think it’s an important one. And I’m glad we got to kind of break it down a little bit today to help everybody understand the significant role that it plays in a relationship. And so thanks for listening in with us. We are grateful to have you here with us today.


Matthew Hoffman  25:29

We just want you to remember one thing that happily ever after does not happen. It’s on purpose. So be intentional and get out there and being a good servant leader.