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.”
Overvaluing performance hinders relationships.
Do you ever feel like you are holding the entire universe together? Have you ever bought into thinking you alone are responsible to make sure everything is perfect and you completely control the situation? My prayer list is often formed after I consider what situations are causing me stress. My burdens are lifted when I can identify the sources of angst in my life, stop internalizing them, and begin to cast them on God. This process has been gradually learned, similar to when I took my kids fishing and taught them how to cast their lines into the water. With time, the hook hits less people inside of the boat. Many times in my life, God has brought His peace by shifting my goals and helping me to reconnect with Him and people I love. God actually wants to carry your anxiety for you (1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:4-7) because He cares about you.
Martha lost her perspective. She was well intentioned and did not realize how much her supreme effort was damaging her relationships. Her unrealistic goals and the stress she put on herself resulted in distance from Jesus and resentment towards her sister. We need to check the price tag on achievement and evaluate if our actions are drawing us closer to loved ones and Jesus or pushing us further apart.
I remember hearing from seminary professors how some students have graduated with their degree in one hand and their divorce papers in the other. Bright, caring, and dedicated people who were training to be pastors were so focused on their schoolwork that they, mistakenly and unfortunately, neglected their families. What a tragedy! When you have a clear sense that God is leading you to complete a goal, make sure that you continue to cherish the relationships that are most vital in your life.
It is a subtle pitfall to serve God and yet become more distant from Him or loved ones at the same time. Do you take a sufficient amount of time away from your work? Your identity should be primarily anchored in God’s love, not your performance and achievement. When have you been wrapped up in your tasks in an unhealthy way? Sadly, many people feel that God only approves if you are running 100 miles per hour. His unconditional love for you started long before you accomplished anything. Rest, be still, and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
If you are a task-driven person, I encourage you to pause, take notice of what motivates you. Is it also pleasing to God? ‘Results’ are even better when relationships are nurtured instead of neglected. While Jesus was approaching Jerusalem on His way to the cross, two of His disciples were making selfish requests about positions of honor (Mark 10:35-45). Focused on their own goals, they were unaware of how their passion was damaging their relationships. Jesus reminded the self-focused men that true greatness happens when you serve other people, and He helped change their hearts and their priorities. You can trust God when He convicts you and asks you to make divine detours and mid-course adjustments. Embrace His values, solutions, and perspective.