I have the honor and the privilege of serving where I work. Let me rephrase that. I've been serving at my church, also where I work, long before it was ever my job to do so.
Serving comes naturally to me. I've always done it - wherever I saw a need I stepped up. I rarely needed to be asked to do something. I simply offered or just did it. It's part of my make up and I love that about me. (You know it's okay to love the good stuff about you.) So whenever I was asked to do something, it was most often an honor to serve in that capacity because it affirmed that gift in me. Someone else saw that I was good at it.
Oh, but there is a trap we servant-hearted people can often fall into, even those of us in leadership and especially those of us who serve where we work. We can find our Martha taking center stage if we're not careful.
Today is Easter Sunday! That alone calls for an exclamation point. So please don't critique my editing skills in this instance. Our church hosted our very first Easter Egg Hunt and it was a huge success! We didn't know exactly what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised by how well it went and how well attended it ended up being.
We served a light breakfast to the masses and yours truly was one of the volunteers recruited to help with that. This was not my event, meaning, I wasn't in charge. Even though I had to be there very early this morning, I was grateful I didn't have to be in charge. I'm in charge a lot!
As we were setting food out and preparing for the morning, the worship team was practicing. I could feel my heart stirring. It was Easter, and while they typically "bring it" every Sunday morning, this morning on Resurrection Sunday, they were pulling out all the stops and my Mary was beginning to show.
Once things began to wind down from the festivities and worship began, all of us Marthas got busy in the kitchen putting things away and cleaning up. We had the super crew (all the single women in the church, just about) and a few others who know how to get stuff done. So it was going pretty fast. However, I warned the ladies when we first began clean-up, that once the worship team began signing a certain song, I was outta there! It didn't matter to me where we were in the process. I would be gone and they were welcome to come too, after which we'd go back and finish. (You can say things like that when you're usually in charge even though you're not in charge that day.)
I left the door open so I could hear the music and when the first chord struck, I said to our team, "I'll be back!" One other followed suit. I left Martha behind to go be Mary. Or you could say, Mary kicked Martha to the curb and that would be more accurate.
As one gifted in acts of service, it is easy for me to allow Martha to dominate much of what I do. I sometimes find myself getting caught up in the trap of serving and forgetting why. Mary gets hidden beneath the immediate of what needs to be done. I fight that battle on a regular basis. I am task driven. I admit it. but that makes me a great servant. I get in there and get things done, and that's my job. Who doesn't want that?
However, underneath the surface Mary is crying out for a little breathing room. Some days, like today, she has no problem asserting herself and just doing what she does. It sounds crazy. I know, but can I just say that we need both in our lives.?
As believers, we're all called to serve. No exceptions. It should be a natural overflow of our walk with the Lord. Some, like me, have a gift of serving which means I operate out of that place more regularly than most. My natural bent is to serve others. Yet if there is no Mary in the mix, our lives will become shallow. There's no depth of relationship with the Lord because we're always doing and never being. That's not what He wants.
Today, while serving, my Mary came front and center. She refused to let Easter Sunday go by without worshipping the One we celebrate. Sure dishes needed washing, food needed storing and things needed some order, but my soul needed tending. Worship does that. Time in the Lord's presence does that.
I've said quite a bit of this in jest but the truth is, I believe there are three people living inside of those of us who believe: the Holy Spirit and both Mary and Martha (the latter two figuratively).
Jesus demonstrated a life of service. He is our prime example of what a true servant looks like. Yet, He knew how draw away from the crowd and feed His spirit. He was friends with Mary and Martha and He dearly loved both of them.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this. We get to live life doing both - serving and adoring. We don't have to choose! Both are necessary to a fulfilling life as a follower of Jesus Christ. However, it's easier for the one, Mary, to serve out of the overflow of her adoration than it is for the other, Martha, to set aside the tasks and other immediate things to spend time adoring.
Be mindful of this when you fall into that trap, and give yourself space to stop and remember why it is you serve. It was Mary that caught the Lord's attention even though Martha was doing needful things to "bless" him, all the while becoming agitated that Mary left her to them! Hmmm... I think Jesus would've been more blessed by a cold pastrami sandwich and a bowl of olives made right there in His presence after He was through speaking, than with a full spread laid before Him when He was done.
We who serve so relentlessly need to give Mary her space more often and first thing. She knows what it's all about and can help us keep things in right perspective. I need more Mary. I'm glad she refused to sit idly by today.
Oh, and by the way, I did go back to the kitchen to help finish up. It all got done, just as I knew it would.