Spiritual Life of the Leader - Lesson 2

Sermon by Alexander McClaren

Mysticism can be described as the direct communication of your spirit with the Divine Spirit as taught and illustrated in the New Testament as a fundamental part of Christian belief. Receptivity means that I am open to what the Lord is saying to me through the revelation of his word, the magnificence of his son and the voice of his Spirit which is consistent with the written word. The church was emphasizing what they were doing for God rather than on first listening to what God wants us to be and then acting. Union with our Lord must come before any type of donation or work (kenosis) for our Lord. (Download the complete text of the sermon by clicking on the link on this page or under the Downloads heading on the class page.)

Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of the Leader
Lesson 2
Watching Now
Sermon by Alexander McClaren

Sermon by Alexander McClaren

I. Introduction

A. Sermon by Alexander McClaren 1901 (cont)

1. Both justification and sanctification

2. Receptivity

3. The church was out of balance

B. Luke 10:38

1. Cultural significance of Martha owning her home

2. Younger sister sitting at the Lord's feet

3. Mary's place culturally was with her sister

4. Martha was distracted vs. 40

5. Who am I serving, why am I serving

6. When you have a divided heart, life inevitably gets overwhelming

7. It's normative to find church leaders that are overwhelmed with life

8. Message to us today

9. Statistics about longevity

10. There is only need of one thing vs. 42

  • Dr. Martyn has surveyed church leaders around the world to understand their responsibilities and pressures. He aims to use his experience to help them develop a model of ministry that encourages spiritual formation, discipleship, and worship in a healthy way. His class is comprehensive on topics such as spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles, and worship. Listening to this class could benefit anyone regardless of whether they have an official leadership position or not.
  • Christian activism is Christians seeking to be involved in the issues and needs of the day and time. Wesleyans in the 1700's in England sought to minister to people that others didn’t care about. To be called by Christ is to be called into the body of Christ. A biblical model is that every member is a full-fledged minister of the gospel without distinction between clergy and laity. 

  • Mysticism can be described as the direct communication of your spirit with the Divine Spirit as taught and illustrated in the New Testament as a fundamental part of Christian belief. Receptivity means that I am open to what the Lord is saying to me through the revelation of his word, the magnificence of his son and the voice of his Spirit which is consistent with the written word. The church was emphasizing what they were doing for God rather than on first listening to what God wants us to be and then acting. Union with our Lord must come before any type of donation or work (kenosis) for our Lord. (Download the complete text of the sermon by clicking on the link on this page or under the Downloads heading on the class page.)

  • Which do you love more, the Lord or the projects you are doing for him? Is your goal to exalt the Lord or build a personal kingdom? Essence of anxiety is whether or not you can trust God. The question to ask when you begin having feelings of self-pity is, “Is you life going to be defined by how you think it ought to go?”  The blame-shame mindset is that you are unhappy because there is something wrong with the people around you. When you experience these red flags in your ministry, you should recognize it as time that it’s possible that the Lord may be prompting you to make a change in your life.The Mary in you must rest at the feet of Jesus if the Martha in you is to do her work.

  • Essence is who the Lord has created you to be. Biblically, essence precedes existence as oppose to Sartre's teaching that man is no more than what he makes of himself. God has given us the capacity of reception, to be able to hear God’s voice and follow it. The spiritual life that God calls you to live is based on what you receive from God, not on what you do for God.

  • How do you determine if your motives are right in your efforts to serve God? The more gifts and talents we have, the more susceptible we are to self-deception regarding our motives. Resist the urge to make pleasing people your primary motivation. You will never please everyone and in the process you lose sight of focusing on pleasing God. When people have expectations of you that don’t match what God has called you to do, there are times when you must, “let Lazarus die.”

  • God wants us to be faithful to the kingdom and his son and fruitful according to his metrics. What’s the goal and what condition do our hearts need to be in to understand the goal? The Mary in us needs to rest at the feet of Jesus in order for the Martha in us to do her work. Think about when you experienced renewal and think about when you were blessed. When you have received God’s blessing, how has that resulted in demonstrating his hand of mercy to someone else? How are your activities balanced?

  • A canal simultaneously pours out what it receives. A reservoir waits till it’s filled then discharges water without loss to itself. Today, there are many in God’s church that act like canals. The reservoirs are far too rare. So urgent is the charity of those through whom heavenly doctrine flows that they want to pour it forth to us before they have been filled. They are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves. High mountain lakes have one stream out and water level relatively constant throughout the year. How is the water level staying constant in your life? Depletion results in erosion of presence, and results in just going through the motions. 

  • The Lord desires that we live dispositionally. Important elements include loving God, living devotionally, relational strengthening, vocational serving (listening with the intent of following what I hear). Dallas Willard wrote, “If I am a disciple of Jesus, I am with him to learn from him, how to be like him." The primary calling of a pastor is to follow Jesus, within the calling of leading a church. 

  • The eight deadly sins are in the order that Satan uses to try to get us and in the order in which we need redemption. Gormandize means you are overdoing it and being a slave to flesh. Fornication refers to a wandering heart and seeking to devour others. Avarice is the love of money and sometimes is a fear of not having enough. Anger is a rancorous spirit. The spiritual cancer of depreciation is looking at the vast horizon of God’s goodness in his creation and my life and depreciating it, only seeing what’s wrong. Psalm 51:10-12, create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.

  • When you experience a difficult situation, how do you begin to turn your focus away from the negative and on to what God is doing? How do you respond when you are working closely with people that don't like you? What do you do as a leader when there is a person that is angry with you and disagrees with how you are leading?

  • The sin of acedia is, “I don’t care anymore.” The sin of tristitia is sadness, wrongly processing suffering and loss, allowing the soul to close in on itself and refuse instruction from God. Tristitia is neither a result of other people or of our outward circumstances. Satan wants to get us off the track in stupid presumption or in sinful carelessnenss. God redeems the hurt that evil has done.

  • In the early church passion was seen as something that controlled you and out of control and leading you astray, not a positive motivation. John Cassion described vainglory as passion to take pleasure in our own qualities. The danger is that we take credit for what God is doing. In pursuit of being popular, we often sacrifice who we are at the core. Pride is the original vice from which all others spring. Pride can develop into functioning atheism. The cure for pride is to have the humility of Jesus in our heart. 

  • Is there a sin that's not deadly? To what extent can you worry about something before it becomes a sin? What does it take to overcome gluttony? The minute you make an exception for yourself, you either presume on the grace of God or break a known law of God. Admit what you are feeling and submit it to God to have faith in him in the situation, then do your part.

  • Instead of gluttony, we see temperance. Temperance means living a balanced life. Chaste love is extending love to others, not preying on them. Poverty of spirit rather than greed. Cultivate meekness to deal with anger. You have been forgiven much so you should be willing to forgive others much. Cultivate faith, hope and love to deal with hopelessness. Cultivate humility to deal with vainglory. Evangelism in the first 300 years a result of the quality of the lives of disciples as they lived in a hostile environment. 

  • A transcendent crisis is yearning for the “more than.” “Is life meaningful?” “Is God good?” Can I trust my life to God or have I been abandoned by God? An idolatry crisis happens when you run after a passion rather than pursue God. Each person in your sphere of influence is going through crises in their own lives. God can use a crisis to help something in us die so we can experience and share the light of Christ.

  • To feed the 5,000, the disciples had to rely on Jesus because they didn’t have the resources. Jesus walked out on the water to comfort the disciples with his presence. The disciples thought they were going to die a terrible death. If you choose to think your situation, the church and others are hopeless, it results in ego desperation, or hopelessness. You see what’s wrong, you think you have exhausted your resources and you see no way that it’s going to get fixed. If you allow the crisis to take you into the life of Christ and dependence on him, it will not destroy you. 

  • It's important for us to understand how our relationship with God is affected by being born at a certain period of time and in a certain society. The vital is the physical dimension of the human life. Vitalism is where your physical pleasures become the priority in your life.  Functional is the roles, tasks and responsibilities we take on. It’s a problem when we allow our roles and responsibilities to define us, which is functionalism. Transcendent is the longing for the “more than.” Pneumatic/Ecclesial level is the capacity the Lord has given each of us to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit, God’s voice. When ambition gets separated from the leading of the Spirit, it can become self-promotion. Functional Transcendence is you using the things of God for self-gain.

  • It's important to keep Christ at the center of who you are. Interiority includes memory, intellect, will. Augustine says will is most important.In addition to our personal thoughts, we exist in community with others who are submitting their lives to the will of Christ. The Lord has placed us in a certain place and time and wants you to live a life of obedience in that context every day, not just one day a week. The Father is seeking to form your life into the image of Christ as you were meant to be. Through our experiences, God forms you into a unique person. On the relational side, this results in compassion for others because we love others with the same love we experienced. God gives us confidence that he has given us the gifts and resources we need to live out the calling he has given us. Competence that our ministry will be effective. Our courage comes from trusting in the strength of the Lord. Community, the work of God’s Church is a work done with others. Confirmation comes internally from God and externally from the community of faith. 

  • If you are following Jesus, you have a role as a leader. If a spiritual leader does not understand what their task is according to scripture, then their spiritual life is not going to have the focus the Lord wants them to have.  Worship is a response of the love that has been shown to us. Worship involves our all aspects of us and is enabled by God’s Spirit. We worship God because of who he is. By looking at Jesus, you see who God is.

  • The Church needs you to present what Scripture says, not your own ideas. Worship means to kneel before someone out of respect or honor. We owe it to God as an act of service to sit at his feet and worship him. Spiritual worship is to place our physical bodies at God’s disposal. Are we leading people to worship God, or just providing religious goods and services to them? Solid biblical teaching is important. Structure follows purpose. We are failing to dig down into the revelation of God and let the revelation of God set the compass. If you are not careful, your program sets your agenda.

  • Movements in worship: 1. kneeling in acts of loving worship. Kneeling in submission before God to acknowledge that you are dependent on him. 2. Exalting God by declaring his worthiness 3. Receiving God’s life symbolized by the sacrament of communion. 4. Empowers us and encourages us to go out and serve. We participate in the fellowship and life of the Trinity. We need to immerse ourselves in relationship to God and let that inform and empower what we do so that our worship service is more than creating an experience or transmitting information. Be explicit about your purpose in worship and include prayer.

  • The elders fall before the throne, they worship the Lord and they cast their crowns before him. Falling before the throne represents an acknowledging of God as absolute deity. What is going to happen in the future tells us what we should be doing now. When we fall down before the throne, our heart condition is inward humility and submission to the Lord. Then they raise up and exalt the Lord by proclaiming his worth. Inward love results in proclaiming what is right, good, just and holy. Taking of crowns is an outward expression of placing everything we have under the Lordship of Christ and an inward movement of total abandonment of everything we are to God.

  • The call of Jesus to, “follow me” is the call to redirect everything in our lives. A disciple is one who seeks to fulfill the will of the father by actively following Jesus the Son while continually depending on the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength. Faith is my trust in Jesus as well as the content of the Gospel. Practice is putting it into play. Catechism is the content of the faith, and catechesis is how you express it. Cheap grace is not biblical because it allows for justification without ensuing discipleship. Primary purposes of the church are to proclaim the Gospel, worship and make disciples. In addition to knowing the content, you must live it out. Clergy need to learn how to make and train disciples. Laity must be fully committed full-time ministers of the body of Christ.

  • Movements that are necessary for the church today to fulfill what God is calling them to do. For the clergy, 1. moving from pastor as the primary minister to each believer fulfilling their calling as full-time ministers in their spheres of influence; 2. Moving from preaching only to not only appropriate sermon preparation time but also discipling a core group; 3. Moving from a priority on numbers to staying with a process that results in mature disciples; 4. From solo leadership to team leadership. Discipleship should not be optional. Old Christendom model is breaking down but confusion on who and what we are called to be. “Is my first aim to make disciples, or do I just run an operation?” For the laity, 1. From going to church to being Church; 2. From expecting benefits from Christianity requiring no sustained effort to being intent on being disciples; 3. From being passive observers to full-time ministers. Primary purpose of leader is to equip the people of God to do the work of God.

  • The sermon is a critical part of the discipleship process. The “through” movement is the process of the “from-to” movement. Each of these steps must be contextualized to your situation. We are aiming for maturity in Christ. As a leader, you love the whole but you only disciple the few. Don’t neglect public proclamation but don’t see that as the end of your ministry. Daily pray, read scripture, weekly services, small groups acts of service, fasting, giving. Discipleship is helping people integrate the word of God into their lives.

  • Tozer says we don’t have the right of choosing Jesus as Savior and postponing our obedience. Dispositions are something that’s part of your daily life. Christian disciplines help us to love God and love our neighbor. Encourage people to seek God’s direction for where he wants them to serve. The biblical model is that mature Christians will live as disciplined followers. Make it a goal for pure love to fill your heart and govern your words and actions.

What do you think the priorities should be for a leader in the Church? How do you cultivate your personal spiritual life in a way that keeps you emotionally healthy and helps you avoid choosing sin? What is your measure of success for your church? How does that compare with a biblical measure of success? What is a disciple? What should the process of discipleship look like? What principles can you learn from the way Jesus interacted with his followers that will help you to encourage spiritual formation of the people in your sphere of influence? What are sins that people in leadership have commonly struggled with over the past 2,000 years? How do you recognize them in your own life and what are some practical ways to avoid them or repent and recover from them? What is the essence of worship? How do you live your life so you are worshipping God authentically in everything you do? How do you lead worship in a group setting in a way that encourages others to worship authentically? 

These are a few of the questions that Dr. Martyn poses to begin a conversation regarding the subject of the spiritual life of the leader. As a pastor for more than 20 years, Dr. Martyn asked and answered these questions in the context of loving and serving people personally. As part of his current position of teaching future pastors at Asbury seminary, he and some of his colleagues have conducted extensive surveys of church leaders throughout the North America and the world to get a better understanding of the responsibilities and pressures that church leaders face every day. His goal is to be able to understand biblical principles and use his experience to help leaders develop a model of ministry that helps them develop their personal spiritual life and give them a model to disciple and encourage the people they work with in a way that is healthy and encourages their faith and practice. 

Whether you have an official leadership position or not, you will benefit from listening to this class. It is one of the most comprehensive classes on spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles and worship that you will ever hear. If you listen and reflect on each of the lectures from beginning to end, you will be glad you did. 

Dr. Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of a Leader
Sermon by Alexander McClaren
Lesson Transcript

Mysticism can be described as the direct communication of your spirit with the Divine Spirit as taught and illustrated in the New Testament as a fundamental part of Christian belief. Receptivity means that I am open to what the Lord is saying to me through the revelation of his word, the magnificence of his son and the voice of his Spirit which is consistent with the written word. The church was emphasizing what they were doing for God rather than on first listening to what God wants us to be and then acting. Union with our Lord must come before any type of donation or work (kenosis) for our Lord.

A. Sermon by Alexander Maclaren 1901 (cont)

1. Both Justification and Sanctification

So Maclaren is saying this being a Christian is a ‘both/and’ business. Just as we want both Justification, accepting the work of Christ in us, repenting of our sins and by faith inviting Christ to rule and reign in our lives. We also want the work of sanctification where the Holy Spirit is recasting our natures into his nature. We want this ‘both/and’ going on as well as Christian involvement in the world because Christ was involved with the needs of the world. But we also know that the Lord Jesus has a primary relationship with his Father in heaven, his and our God. But how is this balanced? Not just balanced but prioritized. What does it mean then with Martha having her own way? Martha flipped the balance and flipped the priority. In other words, she’s got her priorities wrong. Maclaren said that the Christian activities of this day, especially, need a deepening consecration of the mystical side of evangelical truth. He is talking about the Word of God in how you and I interact with the written Word and the Living Word, who is Jesus. The river that is to bring fertility to half a continent must rise high on the mountain of God and be fed from the upper spring. Then he gives a word that has helped guide and lead the church all along its two thousand years history.

2. Receptivity

Pay special attention to the word, ‘receptivity’. Receptivity is that sense of the Gospel being a gift; the Father’s will is made known to us, both through the actions of Christ our Lord and through the miracle of the written Word we have the Father’s will. The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God to be in us. So these gifts to us are not there to be manipulated or controlled; instead, they have to be received. There is a whole dispositional way of looking here; I am open to what the Lord is saying to me through the revelation of his Word and the magnificence of his Son and through the voice of his Spirit. These are the gifts to us.

3. The Church was Out of Balance

So Maclaren was saying that the church was out of balance, in that the stress was thrown more on activity, what we do for God rather than listening first in understanding what God wants us to be. He isn’t saying for us not to be involved in mission or ministry. That isn’t part of it at all. He is saying that we need to get our balance right. By saying that Martha has it all her own way now; we shot the balance, it is gone. Now we will go to Luke 10:38 and just see what is being said.

B. Luke 10:38

1. Martha Owned her Home

‘Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest.’ In this first sentence we see that she owned her home. How many women in the 1st century owned a home? This is somewhat an uncommon event. We do have records of wealthy Roman women owning property, so it isn’t unheard of but it doesn’t seem to be common. This tells you that her parents were gone and perhaps her husband was gone. We have a single woman living in a man’s world in that day and age inviting a group of people, perhaps as many as thirteen people or more. Her sister was obviously a younger sister named Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

2. Sitting at the Lord’s Feet

They are probably in a traditional Jewish home of the time; the men would have gone into an upper room, a living area. Mary is breaking major social rules by being the only female going up with the men. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks. She went to Jesus and asked in a rhetorical question that came out of anger, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ Isn’t it amazing that here sits the Lord of the Universe and this lady has enough gumption to give an imperative command to Jesus. I am careful in teaching about Martha because I’m sure she will want to sort me out when I go to heaven. But the Lord answers her now, a firm word, ‘Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. There is need of only one thing, Mary has chosen the better part which will not be taken away from her.’ Obviously, Martha had a big and loving heart. There is no condemnation for Martha, not at all. I think her love led her to heroic service. Even in today’s life having so many people in a home would be quite overwhelming. I have African students who would consider having so many people in the home, not a big problem. I also have central and Latin Americans who would just be used to this sort of thing. At that day and age, it would have been a lot of work as well. There was no electricity, no running water, and no refrigeration. So, there is indeed, a lot of effort involved in preparing a meal for so many people. I think that she was entering into sacrificial service for our Lord. We should never under estimate that it was for our Lord. She is serving Jesus and that will never be taken away from her.

3. Mary’s Place Culturally was with Her Sister

A typical kitchen in that day was outside. The oven was fired by a fire inside of it cooking the bread. They had to grind the meal up and you mix it into a flat patty and plaster it on the inside of the heated wall of the oven. They would have had seasonal vegetables; the meat would probably have been lamb. So, it is going to take a while to put all of this together in this type of a kitchen. Mary, the younger sister’s place, sociologically and religiously and culturally in such a stratified culture would place Mary beside her sister, not with the disciples listening to Jesus. This is like somebody who is famous that comes in and everybody abandoned you in the kitchen in order to go sit with the famous person. This is not the best situation at all and then for Mark, a single woman being up sitting at the feet of Jesus and all of the other men. In other words, she broke all of the social and religious rules of the day.

4. Martha was Distracted

Verse 40, ‘But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make, so she came up to him and said, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.’ This distraction is a big issue. So, Martha was distracted by her many tasks. None of these were negative tasks as they were in service of Jesus. Here, this lady had to live in two worlds, a woman living in a society in which is not held in the level of esteem though should have been. She is trying to serve Jesus and she is never to be condemned, yet Jesus uses language or rather Luke uses language that indicates that something is wrong. She’s got a meal to prepare with preparation and perhaps presentation issues as well. How will she lay all of the things out before them. Other issues that would divide her heart would be the responsibility of it all; she is carrying the load of it all. We will talk more about this word, responsibility, later on. What about appearances? How does this appear; this was important for her. Was she seen as a competent hostess and is there a sense of trying to impress? Just keep in mind the words ‘distracted and divided.’

5. Who am I serving, why am I serving

The body language here seems to be that she is trying to accomplish too much. The more important word is ‘divided loyalty.’ This represents huge issues in Christian service today. Who am I serving and why am I serving and what is my motivation? All of these ideas and points will begin to be considered now as we look further into this. There are some outcomes that always happen with a divided heart. Life inevitably gets overwhelming. I have experienced all of this in my own life with dealing with all of the demands particularly that a local church and specific ministry puts on you. Full time Christian work can be from early morning to late at night without ever hearing from God, but yet at the same time being very busy for God. Of course we hear this word as you are going to see of anger; an issue that she has.

6. When you have a divided heart, life inevitably gets overwhelming

After saying yes to meaning the needs of Jesus and his disciples, Martha finds herself overwhelmed, she finds herself anxious and angry. For myself, I started working with pastors doing seminars for pastors and teaching pastors many years ago. Even while I was a pastor, I helped lead other pastors as I have dealt with many church leaders.

7. It is Normative to find Church Leaders Overwhelmed with Life

From my own experience, it is fairly normative to find church leaders overwhelmed with life. This has all sorts of consequences. All too often those of us who minister find ourselves overwhelmed with what we said yes to. It is a good thing to say yes to serve Jesus wherever you are: at home, in your church, on the mission field, or as a pastor; there are demands in saying yes to Jesus. And yet, we end up being angry at people around us; this is a huge issue today. Then Martha does the unthinkable; she literally rebukes the Lord. Her question is a rhetorical question; it isn’t a true question. In other words, the question was frustration and saying, look! This isn’t right! Get her up and get her in the kitchen with me!

8. Message to Us Today

Verse 41: ‘But the Lord answered her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.’ After she commands that Jesus should tell Mary to help her. I made an appointment at the seminary to sit with both an Old Testament professor and a famous linguist. I had two of my dear friends, one on the right and one of the left. I ask them for their help. In Jesus repeating her name, I ask the Old Testament professor and he gave me a hand motion. In other words, Martha, pay attention; then the linguist said that it was a sign of endearment. Anytime you repeat somebody’s name, it means you love them and you care for them. How many times have you not repeated the names in talking to your children and grand-children? You love the children and want to bless them. Jesus is saying to Martha to pay attention; Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. So now we are adding another issue. Not only do you have this issue of divided focus going on but now you have the issue of worry. What is this thing about worry? When you are talking the New Testament language of worry, you are coming into the area of fear. She is afraid that something is going to collapse on her. So, is she actually afraid that the meal is going to fail? It isn’t going to be successful and then what? Martha will be seen as a failure. She couldn’t pull it off, she took on too much. She didn’t have what it takes to impress, to be the hostess that she wanted to be. So, here is a voice of love and tenderness, a voice of firmness and here is a voice for us today. Jesus didn’t reproach the work she was doing, but the fact that Martha allowed this labor to make her so anxious and restless; she could no longer hear the voice of the Spirit within her heart. She had touch with her call to obedient openness. She lost sight of what true service was about and who true service was for. This is so common with us today to have the exact same kind of collapse.

9. Statistics about Longevity

I keep the kind of statistics that I hate, I absolutely hate. It is the kind of statistics regarding longevity of ministering people. It is concerns with how long a person lasts or do you last. I co-ordinate these statistics with other seminaries who keep such things; I co-ordinate them with the pension board of major denominations here in the states. So these statistics are from the United States and not from anywhere else. What we are finding, as high as sixty percent of people come under the was-out rate for those in active ministry and active service for Jesus. The first wave starts in about five years from now and then the title way will come in about fifteen or twenty years. I can’t tell you the number of wash-outs or failure within the first five years. Wash-outs include those who quit or those who go into other types of ministry. But the shocker of them is the moral collapse. I worked two years for a denominational organization helping oversea under a thousand pastors and in that time period, we averaged dismissing one pastor per week and most of it was gross moral sin. Another thing that we have found, the statistics run the same for both conservative evangelical people and as well as liberal people. For me, the shocker was to see the biblically orthodox evangelical people wash-out. There is a system’s issue going on in the body of Christ. I think the first mental hospital in India in the 1950s called House of Light. It was founded by the Methodist missionary E. Stanly Jones. It was primarily founded for the missionaries who were collapsing from the stress of being on the field. This whole business of Mary and Martha and losing sight of what our service is for and who we are accountable to and who we are listening to. She became outraged because of her divided loyalties and ended up a problem to herself and a distraction for everybody around her. I don’t want to end up a casualty in ministry. I don’t want the thorns to choke the life out of me. I don’t want the evil one to choke the life out of you. Those who are among the thorns hear the word but the cares of the world, all of the anxieties of the world come in and choke the Word and it ends up yielding nothing. Martha, Jesus says; I don’t want my name being pronounced in any other way except in love and response before Christ. Martha, it is all a matter of priorities in the work of the Lord.

10. There is Only Need of One Thing

Verse 42, ‘But one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.’ This is going to be a foundational work that is going to carry us through everything else we talk about. We must realize that union with Christ precedes everything. Another way we can say this, is that union with our Lord must come before any type of donation or work or kenosis, the famous Pauline Philippian phrase of self-emptying love for our Lord. Why do we love? Because he first loved us; that is the first priority as from John 4:19, our work is grounded in his love for us. Our first commitment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all of our mind and strength. This means spending quality relational time with Jesus on a daily basis. That is the foundation of who we are. That is where we received all that we are. If you are in a small group or with your wife or husband or your staff; the real question is where are you in this story? Who do you identify with in this story?