Wednesday, December 7, 2009
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One day I was talking with the owner of a local pizza restaurant; a place where I am known all too well. I was there at the tail end of their rush hour, and let me tell you, this place is a zoo for about 90 minutes around noon. It was slowing down and the owner finally was able to stop to talk with me. When he asked me how I was doing, I said, "Well, I'm doing a lot better now. I had lunch!" The owner said, "I know what you mean. If I wait very late to eat lunch, I start to get shaky." I told him, "Well, I guess you're in a good place then." Actually, he corrected me. He said, "Sometimes we are so busy serving it that we don't have time to eat it ourselves!"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Serving But Starving."
A lot of us have experienced what my restaurant owner friend was talking about - being so busy serving that we don't have any time to get fed ourselves - spiritually, that is. Hey, it happened to Martha, didn't it? It's happened to me way too often, and probably to you, too.
Martha's experience is described in Luke 10:38, our word for today from the Word of God. "Jesus came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"
Now, Martha's busy serving Jesus. Mary is sitting at Jesus' feet, listening to Him. Which is better? Most of us make-it-happen, get-it-done types would instinctively gravitate to the doing stuff rather than the being stuff. But Jesus says, "Mary has chosen what is better." I think we've all been Martha-ed...maybe you are right now. You get so busy serving Jesus that you have no time to be with Jesus. It's like my pizza friend. We're so busy serving spiritual food to others that we're actually eating less of it ourselves.
Now that's backwards! The more people are looking to you, the more you have to be with the Lord yourself. But, frankly, it's easy to let your spiritual health become a victim of ministry. In fact, serving God's Word without experiencing God yourself is a prescription for burnout.
There's a danger in studying God's truth only to prepare lessons, Bible studies, sermons and missing the purpose of studying it, which is to have your life changed through applying it to your everyday life. There's a danger of becoming someone who leads others to experience the Lord while you're slowly becoming a spectator yourself. And you can so fill your life with Christian meetings, Christian positions, and Christian activity that it feels like knowing the Lord. But, in fact, those activities have slowly crowded out that precious private time with Jesus. And that time is the fuel for any valid ministry!
So you may be serving others while starving yourself. Soon that's going to lead to a Martha Meltdown. Ministry is supposed to be the overflow of your own time with the Lord, not a righteous substitute for it. So if you feel yourself growing weak and tired, frustrated, and negative while you're serving your Lord, don't blame the work and don't blame the customers. You probably have not taken time to feed yourself spiritually - to really be with Jesus. You don't want to lose your closeness to Jesus in the middle of serving Jesus.