Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Missional Martha

My husband and I have a recurring conversation. It is one of those conversations that once you begin, it is like deja vu. You know what the other person will say next because it is as if you are reading from a script.

The reason we keep having this circular conversation is because the topic is a thought that I keep chasing in my mind like a dog chasing its tail. I begin at point A, chase the thought around every possible avenue, and always end up at point B.

So between the talking and the thinking, I know that whenever I embark on this particular merry-go-round, the outcome will be the same.

It starts with me wondering if we're doing enough, then hubby reminding me of our priorities now, and then me coming around to recognizing (once again!) that discipling our kids is what we are called to for this season.

So why do I continue to overlook the importance of that?
Am I still needing to be validated in some other way?

The last time we discussed this, I admitted that I am most afraid that my default is to simply take care of me and mine and forget about the rest of the world.

As much as I try to understand grace, I'm annoyed that these tendencies to perform and earn God's favor still show up in my thoughts and motives.

An interesting post from Sherman Kuek on being missional:

It must be understood that one is called to go into all the world, not so much because the world needs us for their salvation (God can save the world without us!) or because we need to hasten the return of Christ (there are people who actually believe this...huh?!) We are called to go into all the world because it is in the going that our understanding of and devotion to love is being challenged and refined.

Now if I can just remember this quote from Eugene Peterson:

"God's great love and purposes for us are all worked out in messes in our kitchens and backyards, in storms and sins, blue skies, the daily work and dreams of our common loves. God works with us as we are and not as we should be or think we should be. God deals with us where we are and not where we would like to be."

Somewhere between Martha and being selfish, there must be a middle ground where I just learn to be, trusting God's ability to lead me.


Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Great post & excellent thoughts.

I do wonder, at times, if we would be able to be involved with more if we lived in more intentional community (not necessarily physically, though possibly). Just a thought.


Lily said...

Thanks Grace! Absolutely Ditto for me. I'm there with you.

One thing I try to remember is that my need for "validation" in ministry or whatever does not come from inside me, but outside me, from people TELLING me I need to serve to prove my dedication to the Lord...not necessarily in so many words, but in their attitudes and actions...by placing higher value on those who serve more, extending them more grace and granting them more recognition. I must listen first and foremost to the Holy Spirit, even if that means my only service right now is to my kids.

The other thing is I try to remind myself of are the times in the Bible when people were blessed by God through their children...God must have had a reason for including that stuff in the Bible...and also the heavy focus on child-rearing God desired of the Hebrew people..."Make teaching these things to your children a higher priority than anything else you do. Talk about them when you watch TV and when you're in the car and when you tuck your kids in at night and when your eating breakfast in the morning rush..." to paraphrase Deut 6:6-9

I must assume that by granting me children, God knew what He was doing.

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

It has taken me the longest time to and embrace that I am where God wants me to be. I have been constantly focused on doing something else - on speaking, or writing, or church planting or this or that...

God has been slowly leading me to realize that this is it, this is the thing, this is the great moment that lies before me. It hasn't always been fun, this leading of his, but I'm beginning - for the first time in my life - to grasp a very deep satisfaction with my life. Just beginning, mind you, but that's been quite unknown to me until now.

Much more information than you wanted to know, I realize... :)

Lily said...



Don't underestimate the validity or importance of your ministry here on this "blog". You might not see it as a ministry. You might not realize how you impact people. You might not ever know how God is using you through this space.

But believe that it just might be exactly where He wants you.

Love, Lily

grace said...

My concern for us would be creating community and still not being missional. It seems the way you are doing it, creating community through mission, creates a more dynamic expression of community.

That is so true. I believe that the generations are really important to God. And when it comes right down to it, I know that we aren't worth doing anything else in the kingdom if we aren't fulfilling our responsibility to the children he gave us.
Thanks for your encouraging words.

Not too much information! Your words are exactly what I needed to hear.
Learning to live in the moment and recognize that the journey is the point of it all, not the destination.
I loved this line. I should tape it to my bathroom mirror:
This is the great moment that lies before me.

Pam Hogeweide said...

I just want to have a Mary heart in a Martha world.

My husband busted up when I had this same circular conversation with him and I declared this popular book title to him about myself.

I love Martha so much. She's a can do kind of woman. She got it done! But Mary, on the other hand, was so inactive, just sitting around doing nothing. I totally relate to Martha's irritation with her. How come Martha was left with all the grunt work, somebody had to do the cooking and cleaning, or else it wouldn't get done. I can just imagine Martha's disgusted look with Jesus after he has the audacity to affirm Mary and basically chastise Martha. What the...?

I would want Martha on my team, not Mary. Mary is not practical or productive. She would not make the final cut on The Apprentice. Martha, on the other hand, understood the importance of Get It Done Even If You Must Do It Yourself. Mothers around the world understand this basic household management principle.

It is like dying for me to sit down and do nothing for church or ministry. I thrive in doing. My ego is fed, my self-esteem strengthened, my world is kept in order by all the doing that I do, all the good doing. My religious identity is based on what I do, what I produce, how I operate in the giftings that God has endowed me with. I get the parable about the buried talents. Martha didn't bury her talents, but Mary seemed to have lost hers.

Jesus' messes everything up. He comes into the house and declares different values. He esteems worth for that which is worthless to me.

I am, in my life right now, in a God inspired season of inactivity. AFter more than ten years of active church ministry I find myself Doing Nothing. Occasionally I hang out with Jesus, but I feel uncomfortable. What do we talk about when my prayer life was based on my activities? How can I look him in the eye when I feel so, um, naked. I have no ministry, no religious activities draping my identity. Isn't the short amount of time my lifespan is on this earth being wasted away? Of course I am pouring into my family, but what am I modelling to my kids? Don't they need to be taught how to serve and how to find their function in the ministry machine, oh, I mean church? What am I imparting to them when I Do Nothing?

There has come an unfamiliar inner harassment as I have willingly stripped myself of ministry. I had no idea how performance oriented I was. Thank God that he would no longer allow me to keep modeling to my kids how to live a church centered life rather than a Christ centered life.

I'm starting to get the Mary thing, a little bit. I don't find her as annoying as I used to. She's a girl I think I might like to get to know. Maybe I can learn a thing or two from her, about how to Be and not just Do.

Angela said...

After devoting so much time, energy, and emotion to "church work" and then being forced out of that particular church, I presently have no desire to minister to anyone outside of my immediate family. All of my energies are being focused on my kids and my husband (and my own spiritual recovery) and I wonder if I'll ever desire to reach out beyond this place. I wonder if there will come a time when I give a flip about going to any church, much less serving in it's programs. I don't miss it at all. That may change over time, but for now...I'm content with serving between these four walls!

grace said...

That is a good point. Jesus didn't look at things through the performance lens. I've had the same thoughts about my kids. I do want to teach them to serve, but not necessarily to serve the church.

Sometimes I wonder if what happened to us was part of God's plan to get me to see the importance of what's happening in my four walls. I am often grateful that I am no longer leaving my kids to run off to do "important" ministry stuff.