(Photo courtesy of bustle.com)
I’m There For You, Babe!
A Discussion on Burnout
“But Martha was distracted with much serving.”
– Luke 10:40
Who remembers the television show Full House? The character Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) stands out when he over commits himself doing errands for everyone in one episode. Each time when asked, whether it was for a ride from school or taking clothes to the cleaners he’d say, “I’m There For You, Babe!” Not really knowing his limits or counting the cost, Jesse’s day ends up a disaster as he tried to unsuccessfully juggle all these tasks.
You want to know something funny? My sister will ask me what are you doing today, then I’ll run down my list of things. She chuckles and says to me, “Ok Uncle Jesse…I’m There For You, Babe!
You know what she’s trying to say? I got too much on my plate. But most of the time I laugh back and continue on. At the time that she’s telling me that, I’m moving right along with a momentum that didn’t seem hectic. But maybe she sees something else? I know she doesn’t want me to burn out. I get stressed at times and am thankful for my sister who reminds me and keeps me accountable.
Let’s look at another pair of sisters in the Bible in Luke 10:38-42:
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 few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Martha’s spirit is over-occupied with cares, serving, and is “troubled about many things.” Martha was busy rushing around preparing for Jesus and His companions. Mary, on the other hand, was found sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Jesus pointed out that Mary had chosen what was best. This pleasant story takes a sharp turn when Martha, distracted by her many tasks, comes to Jesus and asks, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” Haven’t you ever said or thought something similar to this? I have! She seems to have been of an anxious, bustling spirit, fixed on providing the best things for the Master’s use, in contrast to the quiet earnestness of Mary, who was more concerned to avail herself of the opportunity of sitting at His feet and learning of Him. Jesus gently rebukes Martha. She was worried and upset about many things, but Mary chose the better thing.
Martha’s love and intention for Jesus is true, although imperfect. Her position is obviously that of the elder sister, the head and manager of the household. They all were close friends, and Jesus came to their home as a refuge often. Jesus appreciated her loving ministry of hospitality to Him, but sometimes her ministry for Him got in the way of her relationship with Him.
Ouch! That is really something to stop and think about. I know it speaks loudly to me because my heart is to serve and to help others, but when put like this, it’s so true. Do I prioritize my relationship with Jesus as first in my life above all else? I’ll be honest in instances like this, I have jumped up and started on that fast track on my to-do list! Focused on the work instead of who I’m doing it for, I wind up striving to get things done, overwhelmed, resentful, and sometimes irritated, stressed, complaining, etc.
The Recipe (The Word of God)
I’m sure that you too are intentional about serving God. You work hard to serve the Lord and so did Martha. The Bible says, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
Obedience, however, is the response of someone who is in a relationship of trust with God. We trust God, we depend on Him, we are interactive with Him, but He takes the lead. Obedience is better than sacrifice because we are letting God be God and staying in our proper place with Him – the place of dependence and surrendering to His goodness. The recipe is God’s word. He will give you all you need. Jesus didn’t say, “If you love me, sacrifice for me.” Instead He said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teachings” (John 14:23).
All The Right Ingredients
We need time spent with our Lord, intimacy at His feet like Mary. Mary wasn’t lazy or didn’t care about helping her sister. Her focus was different, not on the meal, but the guest. We need a time of direction and to receive from God. Mary worshiped Jesus. The people in the Old Testament would offer an animal sacrifice daily which was required by the law if someone broke it and sinned. They were just focusing on external practices not the internal. Doing their own will, and thinking that by their offering, they were good.
Fresh insights come from hearing the Lord daily. Seasoned with the right attitude, cleansed in God’s living water (confessing sin), yielding to the easy yoke of Jesus, we can be still, marinating on His Word.
The right temperature and timing to cook is imperative for good food. No one enjoys something burnt to a crisp! Each recipe calls for a specific time. We too so need time in God’s presence. Exodus 33:14 states, “And He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Learn to focus on one or two areas of service and do those well, instead of doing many different things halfway. Then be okay with saying no to other things. Remember there are different seasons of life and you may have other priorities. It may not be God’s timing for you to serve in that way. Don’t put yourself where you are not supposed to be. Make time to rest. Even step out of a ministry for a time if need be, like in the case of moving, illness, getting married, or having a baby. Stay close to God and listen to His direction. Remember, God’s got it and will always be there for you, babe!