In this famous story from Luke 10:38-42, we find Martha working to provide the meal for Jesus to eat and Mary sitting at His feet listening to what He has to say. Like us, Martha complains about her workload. Nonetheless, Jesus defends Mary’s act of preference. Every generation of leaders since the first century has written about this passage. Consider Johannes Vermeer’s (1632-1675) painting: I recently reread Thomas Merton’s comments on the Mary/Martha tensions in his address to monks in his book Contemplation in a World of Action (pp.244-250). Allow me to summarize a few of his insights here: The conflict of Mary and Martha is in ourselves. Having sufficient time with Jesus to sustain our doing for Him is, perhaps, the primary tension of every leader. You are not alone. The Holy Spirit invites us to prefer “the apparent uselessness, unproductivity, and inactivity of simply sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening. Read more.
There are few things the world needs more than leaders who know themselves and know God, who are able to differentiate from the countless voices around them and do the Father’s will. The following are a few makers of a life with a growing, differentiated self: Life becomes easier. More ability to choose between thinking and feeling. More ability to choose one’s emotions. Less worry about what other’s think. People in one’s family are doing better. Goals become clearer. An ability to “stay out” of others’ emotions. More curiosity. Clearer thinking. Thinking systems more often. Better health, fewer symptoms of all kinds. Able to take a well, thought-out position. More goals become realities. Better, cleaner relationships Are you progressing on this difficult journey of leading others? Let me encourage you to read, or re-read, chapter four in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (“Know Yourself that You May Know God”) and The Emotionally Healthy Woman (This is. Read more.