It’s Okay to be a Martha

Martha or Mary

Every once in a while I run into blog posts that remind us Christian women that we need to be a Mary in a Martha world. In fact, I ran across it again the other day, and the hurt, and the shame, and disappointment welled up inside of me. For years I struggled with who I am. I am not a Mary. I am not a quiet and meek woman. My strengths are logic, calculations, tasks, and getting things done. And every time I ran across those articles telling me I needed a different personality, I would curl up in a corner and wonder why God made me this way.

It took a while, but I slowly began to see God did not make a mistake when he made me. People like me are needed in this world, and they are needed in the church. Our strengths shore up other’s weakness, just as much as our weaknesses are honed and made stronger by those different from us. We need friendly, outgoing people. We need kindhearted caretakers. But we also need people who are detail-oriented. People who serve behind the scenes. We need Marthas and Marys.

So why do so many of us elevate Mary and put down Martha? I think it’s because we don’t understand what Jesus was really saying in that passage. Not once does Jesus tell Martha to become Mary. Instead, he pointed out where Martha’s focus was. She was so busy serving Jesus that she forgot Jesus. She was worried, and that worry made her lash out at her sister. Instead, he wanted to direct her attention back to what would really last. That meal she was preparing? It would soon be consumed and done. But time spent with him? It would never vanish.

Now does that mean we never cook another meal again (hahaha! I wish!). No, it means while we serve, we keep our focus on the one we are serving. It’s not about being Mary or Martha, it’s about Jesus. Are you a Mary? Then in your quietness enjoy your Lord. Are you a Martha? Then in your service, enjoy your Lord.

If you are a Martha, God isn’t calling you to be a Mary. He is calling you to spend time with him, and serve him with the gifts, personality, and talents he gave you. Those are the moments he spoke of that can never be taken away.

How about you? Are you more like Martha or Mary? Do you ever struggle with the person God made you?

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15 thoughts on “It’s Okay to be a Martha”

  1. Wow, you have no idea how much I needed to read this today. I’ve felt equally discouraged by the whole “don’t be a Martha” attitude — and I have similar gifts to yours! It’s a pretty harmful interpretation of the Scripture. Thank you so much for writing this. You’ve really blessed me.

  2. Love this, Morgan! 🙂

    I commented this on Janeen’s share of this post, but –

    Those “be a Mary” memes bug me too, because although I’m admittedly not super task driven and not much of a Martha myself, they sum up Martha’s entire existence as “not as good as Mary.”

    Everyone seems to forget that we have another story about the two sisters – when Lazarus died, Martha was the one who had faith in the power of Jesus, while Mary was hopeless. Martha was a woman of strong faith, even if she did let herself get distracted by her much serving!

  3. Great post! I’m not sure if I struggle or have this thing nailed.
    I’m naturally a Martha type. Very task oriented. However when we entertain I flip into Mary mode almost to my embarrassment. Inevitably I get so wrapped up in actually visiting with friends my husband is the one refilling glasses and doing the host duties.

  4. In all the studies of Martha and Mary, I don’t remember ever hearing it’s ok to be a Martha. You nailed it when you said in our service we need to stay focused on the Lord and not resent those around us. Thank you for this new perspective Morgan – from one Martha to another!

    1. Thank you, Lisa. As I shared with another commenter, I struggled for years with my personality and place in the church. It took God gently coaxing me and showing me I’m exactly who I’m supposed to be, and that the church needs people like me to finally see God did not make a mistake.

  5. I agree with you, since I am more of a Martha. The encouragement I received from that passage was, as you said, be focused on who I am serving. God has made me the way I am, but that is not to say he is not doing some transforming, which could mean for me, to slow down, and not worry. Take time with God first, and he will direct my paths for the day. Us Marthas are awesome, we get a lot done, but in my case I need to trust God more, and spend more time with him. Thanks so much for this post!.
    Rebecca

  6. “So why do so many of us elevate Mary and put down Martha? I think it’s because we don’t understand what Jesus was really saying in that passage. Not once does Jesus tell Martha to become Mary. Instead, he pointed out where Martha’s focus was. She was so busy serving Jesus that she forgot Jesus. She was worried, and that worry made her lash out at her sister. Instead, he wanted to direct her attention back to what would really last. That meal she was preparing? It would soon be consumed and done. But time spent with him? It would never vanish.”

    That is the crux of it all. Focus.I don’t believe that Mary was quiet either and that we are all supposed to be quiet and voiceless. How awful is that! Mary is exhorted because she chose to spend time with Jesus over everything else. It’s the same as us today. We can spend time cooking, cleaning, working ,etc and keep putting off spending time with Jesus (I am guilty at times) instead of putting Him first and taking time out of our busyness to sit at His feet and to prepare our heart to first seek Him and then, do everything else.

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