I have heard many sermons on the story of Mary and Martha. Sermons on Sabbath, balance, distraction and busyness. But, while recently reading over this passage of scripture again, my eyes opened to what we can glean from it while striving to keep vision alive in us and in others.
You know the story; Mary and Martha had a situation.
What: House needed to be cleaned and Jesus needed to be served.
Why: Because Jesus was visiting.
While Martha was working hard on her vision of making Jesus feel welcomed and comfortable in their home, her sister Mary was sitting before Him soaking in every word He had to say. Martha finally musters up the courage to ask Jesus why on earth He hasn’t told Mary to help a sister out. It was clear what needed to be done. That house was dirty and their Master needed to be served. But Jesus’ reply was this, “One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her,” (Luke 10:42, MSG).
See, while Martha was working on the “what,” Mary was more concerned about the “why.” Jesus’ visit was the whole reason why they were cleaning the house in the first place. And while the “what” can’t be ignored in this situation, (or Luke 10 may have been a Mary and Martha version of Horders), spending some time soaking in the “why” of all the necessary tasks can end up getting us farther down the road because of the inspiration it will bring us.
I think we can all admit that keeping our eyes set on the bigger vision often gets drowned out in focusing on the “what.” Because of this natural inkling we have, we tend to allow the tasks and steps to drive our vision which can exhaust us of producing instead of fueling us with passion. Don’t get me wrong, the “what” totally needs to happen. But, as leadership expert, Simon Sinek says: “It’s not enough to know what you do and how you do it. At our essence, we are most motivated by knowing why we do things. And it’s through that awareness that we can best connect with and sell to others.” Unwrapping the “why” can help us cast vision for ourselves, volunteers and even senior leaders, and we must always be in pursuit of that motivation.
We know a vision should be compelling enough that others want to be a part of it, but we have to be compelled ourselves for them to want to join us. For you, there was once a desire that ignited your heart so much, your feet began chasing after it. The energy you contained was contagious and your passion and excitement encouraged others to chase after it too. Go back there, when you actually began this race and look toward your vision through those lenses. Finding that spark and reviving it will allow your heart to be captivated all over again. Revisit it often so you are continuously awakening the driving force that pushes you onward.
As we lead (or lead up) to others, our “why” may not be enough to keep others motivated. Our energy may keep them going for a while, but if the energizer bunny even runs out of juice, we will probably need to exchange it for something that is a bit more personal to them. Just like ourselves, there is something that causes their hearts to beat out of their chest and we need to find out what that is. What do they value? What makes them angry? What ignites their passion? What makes them get out of bed every morning? When we discover their heartbeat, we should intertwine it with our vision. How could their passions be met through this vision? How would their current mission overlap with the vision we are trying to accomplish? This combination will awaken a momentum that will fuel them to carry the vision forward because we aroused a reason in them, we made the vision relevant to them and we unwrapped their very own “why.”
Just as we must revisit our “why,” helping others revisit their motivation will maintain alignment on the tracks to carrying out vision. For example, there is a volunteer in our children’s ministry who is extremely passionate about making every family feel welcomed at our Church. Her “why” is wanting no parent or kid to feel alone, and she longs to be a servant leader. We’ve casted a blue-sky vision that we are working toward achieving, but it will take time to arrive at completion. Although we haven’t arrived where I know we can one day be, I still see her winning every weekend. In the waiting of launching a new environment and new systems, I get to praise her when I hear that parents felt like they had a partner in navigating our huge campus and remind her that I see a servant leader that is constantly pouring herself out for God’s people. By calling out and encouraging what I know keeps her feet running and heart beating, she is not only encouraged to continue the race but also continues to dream in the midst of hurdles and obstacles. When we make things personal for those we are casting vision to, and remind them of why they said yes, they will be compelled to see the vision to fruition.
The bummer is, things and people can happen in the midst of our “whats.” Obstacles may come, budget dollars may not be there and you could get discouraged from finishing the race. But, people can’t take away your “why” just like nothing was going to take away Mary’s time with Jesus. Your passion is all yours and when you sit down with Jesus and unwrap the truth about why this vision is so worth it, He will be faithful to be there with you in every step and with every person. Be anticipating inspiration from Him so that vision will leak to others. When God ignites our hearts for a vision He has, we don’t have to carry it out alone. Take the weight off of your shoulders, lay it down at Jesus’ feet in surrender. Watch for Him to shape hearts and catch souls a-blazing for what HE wants to accomplish! After all, WHAT we get to do is all about HIM anyway!