Thursday, May 13, 2010

Martha and Me

From Luke's gospel (chapter 10):

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."

This story is troubling to me.

My "C" personality means that I am a detail-oriented, task-driven type of person. I don't have a high need for being fact, I'm perfectly content to have days where I talk to very few people at all. I value hard work and high quality in myself and others. I want things to be "just right". I don't like being embarrassed by being unprepared, incorrect, incomplete, or late.

I identify much more with Martha in this story than Mary. The meal needed to be prepared...the table needed to be set. Company was there, and a good host would take care of such things. I feel Martha's pain. I can relate.

That's why Jesus' response troubles me.

In my worst moments, I am left feeling as if there is no place in the kingdom for my "C" personality. If I want to be a better disciple, I have to leave behind all of those parts of my personality that I value and find comfort in. I must learn to be less structured, less concerned about punctuality, more care-free and impulsive. I'm told (or at least it's implied) that my desire to keep to a schedule makes me a "bad person".

Of course, then my "C" mind kicks it up a gear and reminds me that I have over-reacted and over-analyzed the whole thing. There is a need for balance, and a right time for both organization and punctuality as well as a right time for flexibility and spontaneity.

Do any of my fellow "C's" share in this wrestling of the mind?


Brenda said...

I think there is room in the kingdom for all of our different personalities. I can't imainge that the apostles themselves were all C's or I's, etc. There had to be a balance. I'm sure there were some highly organized ones in the bunch that were puncutual, and then those that may had a problem being on time, and then some that were highly social, and some that just enjoyed being alone.
In reading this it always appears that Mary is the more "spiritual" of the sisters because He said she chose what was better. But I see Martha as a person who expresses her spirituality in a different way. She opened her home to him. She's honoring him by inviting Him in. It's really difficult because no matter how you read it, the right thing in Jesus' mind at that moment was to sit at his feet and listen. Almost feels like a no win situation for Martha. But I love that He didn't chastize her. He gently corrected her.
I think even as a C personality, we find those moments to stop and spend time at the feet of Jesus...even when we are busy organizing, planning, etc.
When I get to a point where I am so overwhelmed and can no longer see the big picture, I have stop and spend time with Him to regain my focus. Can't tell you how many times in the past year I had to do that. It's okay to not have those "social" moments too. Sometimes we get caught up in all the worldly things and doing things that we feel obligated to do that we just have to take a moment and see what is more important.
I'm one of those that likes to be prepared for everything. I think there is a time and a place for preparedness. How about the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. They didn't just get up and go, they were prepared. Or in verse 14 "A wise and faithful servant is working to the best of his ability."
We do our best, and we give our best, and we do it to give glory to God. But I have to admit, I'm a Martha.....who longs one day to be a Mary. Or find a happy medium.
I don't think you are over-analyzing. You are correct in saying there is a time for all different types of personalities. And seeing that in Heaven is going to be one big spectacular party. For me...I'll probably be hanging out with the Martha's preparing a meal. :o)

Trey Morgan said...

I just wish I had a little more of your "C" personality.


Terry Rush said...

Could it be Mary was organized and on time?

Could it be Martha was the socialite; thus running late?

Shane Coffman said...

Hahahaha! Terry, that was really good.

I see what you're saying. Perhaps Mary had her portion of the work done, and Martha had procrastinated until the last minute.

Wow. That's a totally different view of the story. Totally possible, too.

Danna said...

I can totally relate! I love knowing my personality type, but I have found recently that I use it as an excuse. I just want to be who God has called me to be. HE gave me this personality so obviously He can use it. :o)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Shane. You might want to read a book called "Introverts in the Church" by Adam McHugh as he addresses some of the same issues.

As for Mary and Martha, could it be that Jesus' rebuke of Martha was not so much based on her activity (although he points out that she was distracted by many things--big time "C"), but on her criticism of Mary and her attempt to put Jesus in the middle of the dispute? Another time he refused to get in a dispute between brothers about an inheritance. It seems to me that the battle in Martha's mind and mine is not so much over choices between the mundane and spiritual, as it is over not judging others for their different choices. What if Mary had been the one criticizing Martha? Would Jesus have defended her as doing something sacrificial, similar to the woman who annointed Jesus' feet?

Speculation, I know, but like you, this story troubles me and I feel a bit sorry for Martha. Is there any example of Jesus praising a "C" type personality?

JD Hatter

Shane Coffman said...

Thanks for the thoughts, JD.

Great insight into the possible reasoning for Jesus' rebuke.

Us "C's" definitely have to be on guard against being judgmental.

Hmm...I'll have to think about your question. The parable of the 10 virgins immediately came to mind, but I think the main point was being prepared for Jesus' return rather than praising the "C" personality.

Thanks for commenting!