My brothers and sister said I was destined to be a boss — mainly because I was the oldest and pretty bossy. When I was 13 years old, my parents assigned my sister, Debbie, and I to clear the dinner table and wash the dishes nightly. We lived in an older home built before installed dishwashers, and Mom said we were better than a Sears model anyway.
With all the authority of a foreman on an assembly line, I divided tasks. While Debbie wiped the table, I scraped leftovers and stacked dishes in the sink. I washed. She dried. I put them away.
One night, my sister disappeared before completing her tasks. I rinsed the last plate and drained the sink. Still no Debbie. Thinking she’d return soon, I began doing her part because we weren’t finished until we completed both our combined chores. As I put the last dish in the cabinet, Debbie reappeared.
Two nights later, little sister vanished again, mumbling something about a bathroom break. After ten minutes, I hollered, “Debbie, I’ve got homework. Speed it up, will ya?” She strolled into the kitchen in time to dry the silverware. Her disappearing act turned into a nightly pattern.
One evening, instead of shouting, I looked for her and found her secret. Debbie sat on the den floor, one arm draped over Mom’s knee and chatting with my parents. With all the drama teenagers can produce, I yelled, “MOM! Make her get in here and help. I’m tired of her leaving everything to me.”
You see, my priority was achievement. Doing. Debbie’s was conversation. Relating.
My sister and I reminded me of two other sisters and friends of Jesus—Martha and Mary. Martha worked with a servant’s heart, but Mary got the praise (Luke 10:38-42). I cheered for Martha, who took charge and fussed to make everything perfect. So, why did Jesus admonish her and hold Mary out as the one who chose better? Isn’t serving others the end in mind?
Martha and I were cut from the same cloth. We lost sight of the priority, seeking first the kingdom. We forgot to make time first to seek relationship with Jesus. Instead, activity — and perhaps recognition for it — became the primary purpose. She and I expected others to prioritize the same. And we reacted the same when others failed to live up to that expectation. Angry and resentful. Did Martha wonder as I did, Hey, what gives here? I’m doing but who’s appreciating it?
I’m still a doer by nature, but now I understand. Only after I soak God into my being will I survive whatever drought of circumstances come. Sitting with Him without serving is fruitless. Yet, serving without first sitting with Him is aimless. So, I take a lesson from my sister’s book of abundant living.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” Luke 10:38-42
©2011 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.