How would you finish the letter in the above picture? Wait, before we get to that let’s back up for a moment.
Are you familiar with the story of Mary and Martha? If not, take a look at Luke 10:38-42, I’ll wait.
Ok, now that you are back what do you think? If you are like most people you agree with Mary and disagree with Martha. We draw conclusions about Martha’s relentless hurry while Jesus was sitting in her living room. But there is something about Martha’s behavior that connects with me as both a leader and a parent.
I identify with her personality and driven spirit because it’s not my nature to sit and listen and totally unplug. I admire Martha’s personality and her ability to get things done. Then I had an idea...what would it look like if the story was changed just a bit and instead of Jesus sitting in the living room it was their kids.
What would it look like if I, if each of us, parented with a Martha personality or a Mary personality? Here are few thoughts.
Martha’s Parenting Personality
I do admire Martha’s qualities. She was driven, took ownership for what she was responsible for, was a hard worker and had an eye for excellence. She was a born leader.
Martha was a get-it-done person. Something inside of her was driving Martha. Driven to be the best, driven to succeed, driven to provide. I’m not sure what was driving her, but most likely it was several things and, no, not all of them were bad; in fact, her intentions were good. You would never see Martha’s children in dirty or wrinkled clothes at school or church.
2. Took Ownership
Martha took pride in and ownership of what she was doing. When Martha welcomed Jesus into her home she took pride in how it looked. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. No dirty dishes in the sink here. She was focused on what needed to get done.
As a parent, Martha would never be considered lazy. She was a hard worker and had an ability to multitask! Both valuable assets when working on different projects with all your children at once! A hardworking multitasking parent has the ability to do many things at once. They can cook dinner, help with homework, return a phone call and answer emails all at the same time.
4. Prized Excellence
Martha strove for excellence. She had a high bar and always gave 110%. I’m sure she would encourage her children to give the same. Those who strive for excellence have a hard time accepting results that are simply, good enough, and Martha was no different.
5. A Leader
Martha was wired for leadership. In this short narrative described by Luke, we see her applying all aspects of her leadership by preparing for her guest. Although it’s not recorded that she asked her sister, Mary, for some help in the kitchen, I believe she did.
Well, maybe she didn’t ask for help, maybe she demanded it. How many of us, in our parenting, have moved from a question to a directive because we felt pressure to get something done or are tired of repeating ourselves. Sometimes naturally gifted leaders get the two mixed up, especially in their parenting. I know I do.
Now, those are five really good traits. Who doesn’t value a good, hard working leader who takes ownership of what they do and strives for excellence? Pick up any book on “success” at the local bookstore and you will see these traits reiterated over and over again. This begs one huge question…
Mary’s Parenting Personality
I don’t know if Mary was driven or if she took pride and ownership of what she did in life. I don’t know if she was a hard worker or if she prized excellence. I don’t know if she was a leader. But I do know one thing. She didn’t miss the moment.
Mary was mindful of this special moment and responded accordingly. Now, throughout the course of 18 plus years with our children in the home how do each of us as parents define “special moments?”
Mary was aware of who she was with and as a result wouldn’t allow guilt or shame to pressure her to do when it was clear she needed to be.
Mary was fully present without distraction. Maybe she didn’t know how to multitask. If that’s the case, I actually envy her. There was a time when I would have despised her. However, to be fully present in mind, will and emotions is something I desperately seek these days. (See Post: Time Left With Our Children)
So, Here Is The Big Question
Who Is The Better Parent?
I believe the answer is “Marthary” because it takes both time and tasks to raise healthy kids. It takes doing for and being with to raise healthy kids. It takes resilience, mindfulness, awareness, love, empathy, being fully present and some occasional multitasking (if you have more than one child).
I speak for myself when I say there is one question that I must answer every day and here it is.
Who Do My Kids Need Today?
Do they need a parent who is doing for them or being with them? I pray I can read each moment well. I pray that I can be mindful, aware and present when they need me to be. I pray that I can be driven, engaged and a skillful leader when they need me to be.
I pray, every day, that I can, "Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” Ephesians 6:4 MSG
1. Do you fight the tension of doing for your kids vs being with your kids?
2. Which is easier for you?
3. Now scroll back to the top and take a look at the picture.
- If you lean more toward a Mary personality, What would you say to her?
- If you lean more toward a Martha personality, What would you say to her?
Photo Credit: shutterstock.com mage ID: 240526546 Copyright: LiliGraphie