In this day and age it’s easy to be a Martha, always busy, trying to balance far too many things in a tight schedule. Especially as a college student we feel these pressures between academics, work, friends, and ministry opportunities. I create an incredibly busy schedule for myself . But later I find I am in over my head, stressed and worn out, not being able to dedicate time, attention or heart to ministries that demand my attention. Jumping from event to event in my schedule my mind could never be in the present. I am anxious and always worrying about the future and the time that I did not have to get things done. This business caused me to neglect relationships with the people who I am ministering to because I don’t have the energy and love to pour into them.
In the end it’s the fact that we want to be good at everything and in the end we are left feeling resentful, stressed and worn out. Resentful of the rest that others have, stressed because you can’t give your all in everything you have committed to and worn out because it just isn’t physically possible to balance all of these things in your life. I find myself relying on me instead of God to get through these situations. Is this a good attitude and state of being when serving others? Most definitely not!
Let’s look to the passage on Mary and Martha. It says:
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:38-42)
So what is better? Being busily involved and leading many ministries and activities with little time to form relationships within those areas, having little energy and love to pour into them? How much of it is eternal? Yes, it may be evangelism related but is that your motivation? (Because it wasn’t mine). I wasn’t even enjoying the minstires, it was a burden and stressful every time. It can even effect you physical wellbeing if you are overdoing it. (When I got sick I reached my breaking point) Things finally changed when I down sized my schedule and found my priorities. Even though downsizing meant eliminating one ministry from my schedule, the one that had the least commitment, I made such a change. Being aware that I want be able to be 100% present in the ministries I was involved in, let alone my friendships and mundane daily life, spurred a change in my heart and caused me to rely on Jesus for my own strength and to see the ministries as ways to pour into people and show them the love of Christ, with eternal value rather than just a ministry to write on my calendar every week.
Jesus speaks to Martha’s anxious heart. He says “Only one thing is necessary”, sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to his word. Is this a priority in your life, in my life? Do I dedicate time for this in my life or does it get drowned out by the plethora of other activities. Personally, for me this time has to be in the morning otherwise my mind is so focused on all of the other things that happened in the day that although I am giving it time it isn’t receiving the necessary quality and depth. Moreover Jesus says that this time of meditation with the Lord will NOT be taken away, it will not be compromised at the hand of all the pending tasks. So should our lives be, not compromising the Lord for all other things in life, even if they are related to the church or ministry. 1 Timothy 4:6-16 describes the attributes of a good servant of the Lord. One of the most emphasized points is being trained for godliness. Being personally grounded in Him is the most important. To be pouring into others you need be be reciving from the Lord as well.
If you come under the Martha disposition it may begin to affect your priorities and the quality of relationships. I urge you to not let that happen. Because of my disposition to be doing things and having checklists, I don’t allow time for real relationships because the only things in my sights are the things I need to get done. Even though some of these things can be good it eliminates my ability to see what I can be doing for others and taking the time to pour into them because I’m simpley too busy. Slow down and be 100% present. I guess my mom was right when she always reminded me to slow down.
Here are a few of my tips on how to combat the “Martha disposition” in your life that I have found myself repeatedly coming back to.
- Set your priorities straight
Prayerfully asses your life and see where you have compromised one thing for another and which is the real priority? For me it was a plethora of ministries at the sake of relationships. Once you are aware of where you have made these compromises you are ready for the next step. Is there anything in your life that is compromising your time with the Lord? Can it be fixed by a simple readjustment of time management or does something actually need to go? If so make the change.
- Prayerfully consider opportunities where God would use you and ways that He will prepare your heart for those opportunities.
To make sure you stay in synch with Gods plan and not your own be connected to Him by prayer and being in the word. It is amazing how God can change our hearts and desires if we let him and make Him priority.
- Only do as much as you can fully dedicate to and pour into.
If it does come down to downsizing your involvement, so be it. It is much more worth it to be 100% present and pouring into the lives of individual in one ministry, taking the time to know them, than being in 10 but not having your heart or head in it. If that’s the case you are really doing a disservice to the individuals you are “ministering” to. Consider where God wants you and how much you can handle and still be able to maintain real genuine relationships with individuals and see God work wonderfully in the lives of others.
When you seek His kingdom first everything else will fall into place. It has been a little more than a month since my realization of my condition and it has been so sweet to dedicate more time to being with the Lord and letting my mind dwell on him throughout the day. Although I still feel busy I love every second of it because I am being real and getting to know the people I am with, being 100% present.