You may have heard of the Martha Syndrome, the incessant need of being busy doing “good”.
In some Christian and even secular circles, Martha is a name which is synonymous with “busyness”.
This story starts with Jesus’ interesting encounter with Mary and Martha.
In Luke 10:40-42 it points out that:
“… Martha was distracted with much serving and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.
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.”
I love how Jesus chooses his words. He said one thing was needed, not a few things or many things. Just one thing was needed and Martha missed it because she was distracted with serving.
One of the reasons why I highlighted this story was because Martha probably meant well. She believed she was doing the right thing.
Some how, our culture, environment and even religion has made us slaves to certain actions and expectations. We feel we should do these things, which could potentially hurt us.
Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t be a Martha:
It can distract you from your purpose
This is perhaps the most important reason to say no to being ‘busy doing good’.
Growing up, I was taught the importance of helping out. This is a good thing, but at times it can hurt my growth and progress because I take on much more than I am able, which distracts me from the things that actually matter.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t do good or help out. Absolutely not! My point.. just don’t get so busy that you don’t have time for God.
It’s time for us to move from a place of doing what’s expected of us to doing the right thing as Christians. This requires that we deepen our relationship with God.
This will not only help us hear his voice, understand what he requires of us but also grow in wisdom to act according to His will for our lives.
It can affect your relationships in a negative way
Mary and Martha were sisters. We are not told if they were close, but we can assume that they didn’t have any serious issues.
But in the course of the story, you will notice that Martha was upset that her sister had failed to assist her. Martha went as far as reporting her sister’s actions to Jesus. This shows us two things:
– Martha probably felt that she was right, after all she was the one seeing to the “physical” needs of the guests.
– She was happy to throw her sister ‘under the bus’, which may signify that there was some sibling rivalry.
How many times do we feel like reporting friends, siblings or even colleagues because we don’t feel like they are doing their part? This may make us judgmental, proud and unforgiving. Not the traits to build lasting relationships, right?
In our quest to be good and do what we believe to be the right thing, we have to be careful to avoid placing any unfair expectations on others.
We all form different parts of the body of Christ, which means each one of us have our own gifts, skills and purpose. We have to not only watch our words, but also our actions and the effect it has on others.
It may lead you to compromise
It’s recorded that Jesus knew Martha’s family. Mary, in John 11:2, anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair. John 11:5 records that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and their brother. We can assume that they loved Him too.
But on that particular day, Mary hung to His cloth, while Martha prepared refreshments.
This may have been due to the sisters’ roles at home or their character, but one thing was certain; Mary was in the right place and Martha wasn’t.
Do we fish for compliments like: “She is such a good girl, she will make a great wife”. “That lady is so nice, she does it all.”
This may be a problem many of us have, where we feel we should always be nurturing and helpful. We may do these things with seemingly good intentions without really questioning the act and the reasons for it, playing the Martha role without even knowing it.
Is it possible that we are sacrificing our time and resources for the wrong things? Probably.
When you join your church programs and departments, when you take on more than you should at work, at home, in the community and or even with friends… who are you doing it for? More importantly… Where does God fit in your schedule?
What are our real reasons for doing it? Is it because of our need for acceptance and to feel needed? Do we do it to be liked and highly thought of, craving the human accolades?
Before you answer, please take a minute to think about these questions.
I know I have been guilty of playing the Martha role
How did you do? Did you notice any traces of the Martha Syndrome? Here are a few things you can do today:
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you so you are in the right place, doing the right thing at the right time. John 16:13
Before you make an offer or take on tasks or responsibilities, ask yourself, honestly, if it’s something you have the time and resources for.
Check if there are any conflict between this and your purpose or Christian beliefs.