“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman name Martha
welcome him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s
feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she
went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve
alone? Tell her then to help me.’ 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 10:38-42

Here is the phrase that stopped me in my tracks: “But Martha was distracted with much
serving.” Because that is where I am. About two months ago I stood before my church,
filling in the pulpit for my senior pastor, and I had to confess to them that I had become
more about the work of Jesus than I was about Jesus. My love affair with Christ had
become stagnant because so much of my time, focus, and energy was spent on the
work of Christ. So as I read this passage above a few days ago, it reminded me of this
key need that all youth pastors, and people involved in Christ’s mission, need to
remember: We were created, redeemed, and justified for a relationship with God, not so
that he had more workers. Our ministry should flow out of our love affair with Christ, not
replace him.

So here are some things that I have learned since be confronted me with “losing my first

1). IT IS REALLY ALL ABOUT JESUS. My relationship with Christ needs to be the
number one priority in my life. The reason for this: Everything in my life will be affected
by who/what the priority in my life is. But also because my relationship with Jesus truly
is the joy of my life. I enjoy him and he enjoys me. This is what I was rescued for.

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2). I’M NOT NECESSARY. When I actually believe that I am necessary, it is then that
two things set in: pride and worry. When I believe that I am necessary, I work way to
much, not out of love for Christ but out of a necessity of protecting my ego: to be
“successful” at all costs because it is all on me. Also, when I believe that I am
necessary, I can fall into believing that it is because of my efforts that people are
surrendering to or growing in Christ, instead of accepting the truth that it is always God
in and through me getting his work done.

3). OTHERS SUFFER. My wife and my kids sure put up with a lot with the calling that I
have on my life. However, that strain that can come with being a “pastor’s family”
should not be added to because I am so focused on God’s work while neglecting God’s
gift of them to me. They are my first responsibility in ministry. Do I act like it?
But I also suffer. When everything in my life is about this calling and I neglect spending
time away from it for rest (taking a Sabbath rest and enjoying some personal hobbies), I
have tunnel vision and too many areas of my life get out of whack. This is the area that I
struggle with the most, but I need so much to overcome this so that I can be healthy in
the ministry.

4). I WILL NOT BE EFFECTIVE. Jesus said this: “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 15:5, ESV). I apply this passage two ways: First, I cannot grow as
a follower and disciple of Jesus if I am not connected to Christ. I cannot see the fruit of
the Holy Spirit in my life if I am not connected to him. But second, I cannot be effective
for Christ if I am not connected to him. My relationship with Christ is a necessity if I
want to see effectiveness become a reality in my life.

5). JOY WILL RETURN. When Christ is the love of my life, his work again becomes a
joy rather than a chore, duty, or job. I am convinced that if ministry begins to feel like a
job to me, I need to get out. I want to be in full-time vocational ministry as long as God
allows me to be involved in it.

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