As ministry leaders, we carry full plates of “doing”. We plan events, prepare for Bible studies, reach out to girls, and more. If we aren’t careful, we’ll get so caught up in all this “doing” that we’ll forget what God cares most about—our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7). While the work of ministry we do is good, and even important, it’s not ultimate. We must not forget that God cares more about who we are, not what we do.
A favorite passage of mine that demonstrates this is Luke 10:38-42, the ever-familiar story of Mary and Martha. Martha busied herself around the house, while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. In our eyes, it may seem like Martha is the one working hard, while Mary does nothing. However, Jesus commended Mary for choosing the one thing necessary (Luke 10:42). That is, learning from Him. I don’t think the point is that all of our doing is bad. After all, Ephesians 2:10 does say we’re created for good works. But, a principle to learn from this is that our doing must not take priority over sitting at Jesus’ feet. While this may seem (or even feel) like doing nothing, it’s doing the most important work of all, because it’s in sitting at Jesus’ feet where He refines us, growing us in christlikeness.
Scripture also gives serious warnings about doing for God but not being who He calls us to be. In Matthew 15, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees, because they honor Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him (Matt. 15:8). The thing is, sometimes the doing is easier than the being. We know how to plan events and all the right things to do to make it seem like we have it all together. Even, the recognition we receive from this doing is nice. On the other hand, honoring God with our hearts requires tough moments where the Spirit reveals and convicts us of sin. It requires practicing spiritual disciplines, which can honestly be a struggle. It’s also a work that is often unseen and therefore, not recognized by others. However, may we heed this warning Jesus gives the Pharisees. May we not be so concerned with our outward work or the applause of people that we neglect the deep, inward work of the heart Jesus longs to do in us.
So, how can we do this? Our society prides itself in busyness. How can we combat this to cultivate hearts that glorify God, not just events that do? Here are some practical steps:
Practice spiritual disciplines.
Daily, we must spend time in God’s Word and prayer. Maybe this sounds obvious, but we can’t become the women God calls us to be without knowing Him, and we can’t know Him without knowing His Word. At one point in ministry, God deeply convicted me because I urged the girls to be in the Word daily, yet, I so often wasn’t. Now, of course we won’t be perfect, but I had to ask myself, “How can I encourage them to be in the Word if I’m not doing the same?” This could apply to any spiritual discipline. While our girls shouldn’t be our accountability partners (we need women our age for this), discipling them can be a means to hold ourselves accountable. Though they won’t see the inward work God does in us day in and day out, we keep going to God anyway. We sit at His feet and prioritize time with Him, not to impress anyone, but simply because that’s what He calls us to.
Place our identity in Christ alone.
The thing with all this doing, is we often place our identities in it. “Ministry leader” is no longer a role, but the very essence of who we are. The issue is, ministry has moments of difficulty, frustration, and discouragement. If our identity is in ministry, we’ll find ourselves discontent every time a difficulty arises. On the other hand, when ministry goes well, we’ll be filled with a wrong sense of pride. Instead, let’s place our identities in who Christ says we are. Ephesians 1:3-14 is an excellent passage for this. Read it and note that who Christ says we are has nothing to do with what we do. It has everything to do with what Christ has done.
Be involved in at least one thing where we aren’t a leader.
We must be careful to not do so much pouring out, that we aren’t ever being poured into. Spiritually speaking, we’ll never arrive. We always have sin that needs to be dealt with and things we need to learn. Therefore, if possible, let’s try to be involved in at least one Bible study, small group, etc. where we aren’t the leader, but the participant. This will ensure we connect with other women, provide accountability, and that we’re also poured into.
Friends, we did nothing to earn our salvation and we can’t do anything to keep it either (Eph. 2:8-9). Therefore, let’s cease striving of our doing, and rest in the finished work of Christ. Above filling our to-do lists with good things, let’s prioritize the best thing—knowing and loving God. As we do, He’ll refine us to be women that glorify Him. In seeking God first and becoming more like Him, the “doing” He calls us to will certainly be blessed.
Cassie Pattillo is a wife to Jack, and mama to Hunter (5), Isaac (3), and is in the process of adopting from India. Jack is a student pastor, so she loves serving alongside him and investing in teens’ lives. She is passionate about biblical literacy along with writing and teaching about Scripture. She is also a big fan of slow mornings with a cup of coffee, a good book on the beach, and Gamecock football. Connect with Cassie: Blog // Facebook // Instagram