“But Martha was distracted with much serving…” – Luke 10:40
One Sunday afternoon, I caught Samy Tanagho on the radio.
Samy (who converted from Islam to Christianity) mentioned that Christians, especially American Christians, tend to be more task-oriented.
Whereas Muslims, are more relationship oriented.
And it hit me…I have been more task-oriented at the expense of my relationships.
It’s a character flaw I’ve been aware of for some time.
But it sure helped to have the problem identified so I could deal with it.
Are You a Mary Or a Martha?
“And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42
Are you task oriented or relationship oriented?
Let’s call the two different types of people taskers and rellies.
A “tasker” is like Martha, and a “rellie” is like Mary.
Taskers have a checklist.
The list is filled with things to do.
It’s methodical, logical, systematic, strategic and goal-oriented.
Taskers are focused on problem/solution, completion and closure and moving on to the next job on the list.
The worst example of this happened one time when I was called to the hospital to be with a family whose loved one was passing away.
We prayed and consoled each other.
Hours went by.
And me, being the tasker, started thinking about the work I’m neglecting back at church.
I found myself thinking, “Come on, buddy, die already so I can get back to work!”
Needless to say, the Lord dealt with me on this one.
I realized once again, in a moment such as this, the work can wait.
People need to be comforted in difficult times, and that takes time.
Perhaps we are occasionally inconvenienced.
But this is how we love our neighbors by going the extra mile for them.
Rellies are able to stop, wait and listen. (Lord help me, this is where I want to be.)
Rellies can stop the moment they perceive a need, wait on the Lord and listen to the needs of whoever they’re serving.
Then they apply wisdom to the person’s needs.
In the moment, Rellies are able to disregard time and tasks.
By doing this, Rellies are saying, “I’m stopping everything and putting you first.”
Great husbands and wives do this with each other.
Great Moms and Dads do this with their kids.
Great leaders do this with the people they serve and co-labor with.
BUSY = Bound Under Satan’s Yoke!
Satan hates relationships, especially our relationship with God.
Satan hates the fact that God sent His Son Jesus to redeem us.
Satan can’t do anything about the cross.
So he hits us by doing whatever it takes to destroy our relationship with God and the people we love.
Relationships are built on time spent together.
The world calls it “Quality Time”.
A term I have never really embraced because I think all relationship time should have a high degree of quality.
Rellies are able to put their own tasks aside, be selfless and focus on providing a remedy for the one in need.
Don’t get me wrong, we need taskers.
The work has to get done.
In complex work environments, we need “multi-taskers”, people who can get multiple things done at the same time.
Once again, here is where great Moms step up to the challenge.
The question for us taskers is can we chameleon into a rellies when the need arises?
The Best Role-Model We Have is Jesus Christ
Let’s look at the best example of a tasker and a rellie, Jesus Christ.
As a tasker, Jesus was focused.
Nothing would deter Him from going to the cross.
He called out Peter when he attempted this in Matthew 16:21-23,
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Later in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter strikes the servant of the High Priest to “defend” Jesus.
But Jesus says in Matthew 26:54,
“How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
Jesus was focused on the critical task of going to the cross.
His “task” was the salvation of mankind.
And His heart was to obtain a loving relationship with the souls He died for.
John 3:16 best identifies the extent God was willing to go in His relationship with us,
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
What a balance of task and relationship!
We all can learn from Jesus.
We have to remember why we are “tasking” in the first place.
What is the heart behind our labor?
Is our task list just busyness?
Or is it deeper than that?
Who is glorified by the results of our tasks, ourselves or God?
Remember, we are here to glorify God.
It’s a lifelong task driven by a relationship with a loving Savior.
So let’s pray for divine appointments that test our ability to transition from tasker to rellie.
To put our tasks on hold for the benefit of others.
This is ministry.
This is love in action.