Congratulations on surviving the fidget spinners and water bottle flipping of the 2016-2017 school year!
I don’t know about you, but if I never hear the thwap of a water bottle hitting a table, it will still be too soon.
I head up our day camp during the summer, so I am still hearing the whirring of fidget spinners…but I am hopeful that by August, that will have passed on as well (fingers crossed!).
While I certainly acknowledge that there are some students with legitimate needs for some type of fidgets, I know that in my class they were more of a distraction. I lament how my students can’t just be quiet and still at times – they always have to be busy DOING something.
And I realized the other day how much I have in common with them in my spiritual life. I can also get so easily distracted!
It is amazing how when I sit down to spend some time in prayer & the Word how many distractions pop up. Notifications on my phone. The dryer stopped & I need to unload & fold the laundry. I didn’t RSVP to that party e-vite. I just remembered that ingredient that needs to be put on my grocery list. I need to get my hot glue guns & put them in my teacher bag so I don’t forget them for tomorrow’s activity. My to do list runs through my mind as I try to pray. My Bible reading tends to get rushed because of all the things clamoring for my time & attention.
Driven to Distraction by Doing
Sometimes I am just distracted by my DOING for God. I don’t know about you, but every time I read the account of Mary & Martha in Luke 10, I always get a little bit defensive of Martha. Just like Martha, I am kind of irritated by Mary’s just sitting there amidst the hustle and bustle. Hello, Mary – there is stuff to do! Get with the program! We would all love to sit at Jesus’ feet, but somebody’s got to get the food ready. When Jesus rebukes her, I feel her pain. I can imagine myself in the kitchen commiserating with her after the fact.
I think Martha truly wanted to make a wonderful meal for Jesus. This was her gift – her way to serve Him! And that desire to serve wasn’t a bad thing…but she got distracted when she took her perspective off of Christ and put it onto the performance itself. I can only imagine Martha running around the hot kitchen, stirring this, tasting that, directing a servant here, trying to sweep up the mess over there. And the thought comes – where is Mary? Why isn’t she in here helping? She bustles off to find little sister and finds her sitting at Jesus’ feet. Maybe Martha returned to the kitchen to continue working , but she begins to mull over her thoughts. The more she thinks about it, the angrier she gets until she finally marches out to Jesus and practically demands Him to tell her sister to help her.
Oh, Martha, Martha. I can only imagine all of the thoughts that are running behind that demand…
Perhaps a feeling of unfairness- I would love to visit with Jesus, but somebody has to get all of this work done!
Perhaps a feeling of disappointment that her service doesn’t seem to be noticed or appreciated.
Perhaps an indirect accusation of Christ Himself – don’t you care that I am busy serving you and she is just sitting here? Can I get a little help?
I can imagine, because I have had the exact same thoughts. I run around serving Christ with my gifts – and at first, my service may be truly stemming out of love for Him…but then I get distracted. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice that someone else isn’t being asked to do as much as I am doing. Someone else is getting more attention. Someone didn’t seem to show any appreciation for the help that I gave them. And just like Martha, I let it simmer until I am thoroughly upset and my joy in service is gone.
And then Christ turns to Martha and gently rebukes her.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41-42)
He saw and knew all that she was doing for Him. But in her performance, she was missing out on the relationship. That meal she was stressing over was temporary – it would be done and over within a few hours and would be followed by many more meals. But Mary’s love for Christ evidenced itself in sitting quietly at His feet, just enjoying His presence.
Do you ever just sit and enjoy God’s presence?
Or are you so busy DOING for Him that your relationship with Him is rushed and pushed to the backburner? That you are lashing out at those closest to you as you feel the stress of your to-do list growing? Even though you are serving Him, you don’t have any joy?
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps. 16:11, emphasis added)
When we are stressed out & have lost our joy in serving, we need to come to a screeching halt. We need to remember what life is all about – it’s all about loving God and glorifying Him (I Cor. 10:31). If I am stretched so thinly serving Him that I don’t have much time to invest in my personal relationship with Him, I am too busy. I have lost sight of the main thing & become distracted.
What does this look like in our lives?
While I want my classroom to be a fun and engaging environment, that can’t be my ultimate goal. If my goal is to love & glorify God in all that I do, then how does that apply to my classroom? Well, it means loving my students and investing in relationships. It means teaching them the information that they are supposed to know at their grade level – to meet the expectations of my administration as well as helping my kiddos to see God in each subject.
Can I accomplish those goals by sometimes doing a lecture & worksheet lesson instead of spending hours prepping a simulation complete with historically accurate costumes? Yes! Now I certainly want to strive to have exciting and interesting lessons, but it’s okay if not every single lesson is Pinterest-worthy!
Or what about that family in our church that I want to take a meal to? While I want to serve others in the body of Christ, can I still glorify God by simply taking a pizza and a bagged salad to that family instead of the roast beef, homemade bread, vegetable casserole, and three layer chocolate cake?
I am not saying that we lower our standards – there are times and places where we CAN take the time to plan that elaborate classroom activity, where we CAN make that full roast beef meal for the family. But, it is okay to keep it simple, too!
Service or Performance?
How can we tell if our service for God has morphed into a performance for God and thus become a distraction?
- Check your Relationships
Are you finding that because of your service, you are missing the ministry to those closest to you? Your family? Friends? Students? You just feel that you don’t have enough time or energy for them or you find yourself lashing out in anger and impatience?
Most importantly, how is your personal relationship with Christ? Are you so busy serving that you are struggling to find the time to meet with Him without being rushed?
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
- Check your Reactions
Would you rather not take a meal at all if it can’t be an amazing homemade one? How do you react if that classroom activity went off course? If that family didn’t gush in praise over your meal? If you are tempted to react in anger or moping, that is a sure sign that there is something deeper going on in your heart.
…For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45b)
- Check your Heart
Why are you doing this in this manner? Is it so that your students will think you are an awesome teacher? So that family in the church will know what a great cook you are? Are you trying to impress God? Remember that your identity isn’t found in your performance – it’s found in Christ!
If you realize that you have become distracted, there is hope! Run to Christ and confess it to Him (I John 1:9). Look at your heart- is there a continuous thread of pride running through that needs to be dealt with? Is there unbelief over your identity in Christ? Has love for other things pushed out your love for Christ?
As much as we can all sympathize with Martha, we need to learn from Mary! Don’t let your service for Him become a distraction!