When I have thought about the letter M in “mentor” I have several words that apply to that of a mentor.
I think of the biblical sisters Martha and Mary (click on their names to read the Biblical account)…each good mentors in their own way. I think of the Messiah as the guest in Martha’s home.
I think of the word, “mission”, too. All were on a mission.
I have a feeling you are probably aware of Martha and Mary and that you have probably established your opinion of both of the sisters. I have often found myself relating to Martha and wishing to be more of a Mary. At other times, I have enjoyed being a Mary so much that I needed to learn from Martha and be responsible.
These two sisters formed a sweet team in Martha’s home. While Martha took responsibility for running her home, I do see that Mary helped, too. Why?
Well, I am not sure Martha would have complained about her not helping if lounging around were Mary’s customary thing. And so when Martha complained to Jesus to get Mary to come in the kitchen and help her, He was the ultimate mentor to both of them in that moment for he honored Mary’s choosing the better option of sitting at His feet while He taught. He did not chide Martha for being bothered by much, He simply pointed out what He saw and then gave His blessing for a woman to sit still for a little while and learn from Him.
That was not a customary thing back then. He encouraged Martha to make time for that as well by saying what He said. He was telling her that it is okay to not do the expected by your culture’s standards and your big sister, home manager standards if He’s visiting in your home. Culturally, I understand that Martha as the head of that home, was bearing the responsibility for feeding those in attendance with Jesus. He was telling her, in a sense, that she didn’t have to go to all that expected trouble just because He was there. Talk about a relief!
The Messiah has come for a visit and you don’t have to bring out the bread and wine. He’s already there! There is need for nothing else, even if everybody else makes you think there is the need for more. More?! The Most is there!
His presence was the feast to focus on and she was missing it!
So in this scenario I see the three of them as mentors in their respective mission fields and here are lessons I learn from them:
- Jesus – spend time in a friend’s home. Fellowship among believers is sweet. Bless others when you are able and they offer hospitality. Jesus’ mission was to minister to others. He was ministering to both of the sisters and the other friends and disciples in attendance.
- Martha – make the party festive but not to the point that you lose your love for others. It’s not a sin to plan and prepare, but when it takes away from the focus, something’s out of whack. Try to relax. Make time for Jesus.
- Mary – spend time at Jesus’ feet. He is the bread of life. If you notice someone needs your help, help. If it gets to the point they are shouting at Jesus to snatch a knot in you, then perhaps you have abandoned your post or their expectations have gone overboard.
Both sisters had the same mission – minister to their guests, but one was a little more maniacal and the other was a little mundane in her KP duty. Yet, Jesus loved them both and honored them both with His words.
He took note of Martha’s careful planning.
He took note of Mary’s care to listen to Him.
Fortunately, Jesus gave the best message to women that day.
Fortunately, the two sisters didn’t pull each others’ arms/hair/tunics/shawls/scarves in a slinging match in the kitchen, twirling in angry circles trying to trip up the other, growling and poking, gnashing and weeping. Whew! It could have been ugly.
Okay, I think I actually feel the sorriest for Mary in this story. I used to feel sorry for Martha, but I’m not sure I should. I can relate to her because I have been that way in my heart and towards my family when a major production was going down. Maybe if I had taken the time to sit still at Jesus’ feet before I stepped into the kitchen, I would have been a happier hostess from the inside out.
Jesus is our ultimate mentor. His example is perfect. Take time to sit at His feet.
Opportunity for Response:
What other mentoring examples do you see in this biblical story? Please, please, please leave a comment. I am so pitiful, aren’t I?