Do you ever get to a point of doing so much that you wonder if it’s all worth it? I do. Does anyone even appreciate our concern and effort?
Some of us, including me, are serial “doers”. We see something that needs to be done and we do it. That’s just how we’re wired. And because we’re diligent and effective in getting things done, people ask us to do more. As the saying goes, if you want to get something done ask a busy person to do it. We’re time jugglers and schedule magicians. Somehow everything on the list always comes to completion, often without a minute spare.
Even if it comes down to the wire, it’s done and it’s done right.
Serial doers take our responsibilities seriously because we know that the job we do is a reflection of us. Unfortunately, we have a hard time saying “No”. So the tasks pile up and we get weighed down. It’s hard to relax when we’re focused on all of the things that need to get done.
Do you know anyone like this?
Maybe it’s your friend. Maybe it’s your mom or brother. Maybe it’s your boss. Maybe it’s you. Whether we’re serial doers or not, most of us have tendencies to stress out when the pressure’s on. We can run ourselves into the ground by “doing”. And then we’re too tired and empty to share meaningful time with the people we love.
The struggles of serial doers go all the way back to Jesus’ day.
Two of Jesus’ close friends were sisters name Martha and Mary. Martha was a doer. One day as Jesus and his disciples were traveling they stopped in at the sisters’ home. We don’t know if they came unannounced. We don’t know exactly how many people were in the group. But it’s possible there were upwards of 15 tired and hungry men who were suddenly hanging out in the living room around supper time. Back in those days, it was the women’s responsibility to be the hostesses and prepare meals for guests, whether they were unexpected or not. And all of the women would work together.
But on this day, only Martha was in the kitchen sweating out the details as she frantically tried to prepare a meal and set the tables for her honored guest and his entourage. Her sister Mary wasn’t helping at all! Mary was in the living room with the men, sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to everything He was telling the others. Martha was incensed. Not only was it completely inappropriate for Mary to be hanging out with the men, she wasn’t doing her part to help Martha!
So Martha did what most of us would do. She went to Jesus. To complain.
And what was Jesus’ response? Did He chastise Mary and tell her to get up and go help Martha? Did He tell Martha she was right to be stressed out over an almost impossible task? Did He address the meal at all? No.
Jesus’ response was simple and to the point.
He basically said (this is my expanded paraphrase), “Martha, I love you. But you worry and stress about too much. And at the end of the day, none of your “doing” really matters if you haven’t taken the time to sit and talk with Me. When you come to Me, you’ll find out what’s really important––love and relationships. There is a time and place to serve. But if it serving, if doing, pulls you away from Me, it’s not what I want. Mary has chosen what’s better. She has chosen to spend quality, unrushed, uninterrupted time with Me. And she will be honored for it.”
When doing leaves us empty, we’ve become a Martha. We’re so focused on what we’ve said “Yes” to that we’re missing the joy of serving. Let’s take a step back and become a Mary, even just for a few minutes. Let’s sit at the feet of Jesus and be recharged by unrushed, uninterrupted time with Him and those we love. Then we can get back to doing.
“But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:40-42 (NLT)
May I pray?
Jesus, oh how we can relate to Martha! There are plenty of people we think aren’t carrying their weight. We’re tired and over-burdened with the things we have to do. And often it all seems so unfair. Lord, help us to take a step back today and see our busyness from Your perspective. Help us to lay our burdens down and come sit with You. Then You can pour into us so that we can pour out to others without becoming empty. Thank You for loving us and loving the time we spend with You. Amen.
Q4U: In what ways are you like Martha?
I have been in a place before where I was doing way too much to the point that I stopped spending time with God and those I love. They were all good things, so it was hard to choose something to let go. Looking back I know I was seeking approval and did not want to let anyone down. No matter how many things I did, nothing filled any of my longings. Those things were eventually taken from me, and I had to learn the hard way how to prioritize my life so that I am giving God the time He deserves in my life.
I’ve had to learn this lesson too, and it’s hard. But until we’re right with God nothing else will satisfy. And nothing we do will ever take us where we want to go. Makes me think of the old adage, “Let go and let God.” Joy and purpose in life don’t come from doing, they come from being. With God. Sometimes easier said than done for doers (like me) 🙂