I’ve learned a lot of things working for almost twenty years in pregnancy center ministry. One huge lesson I had to learn early on was to be careful about the expectations I had of others. When God placed the burden of this ministry on my heart, I began reaching out to people to support it in monetary gifts and volunteerism. I received support, but not like I had expected. I became pretty discouraged and could not understand why everyone wasn’t as passionate for the unborn as I was. I found myself getting upset and frustrated with others. I began to lose my joy and became critical toward other people who I thought should do more for the cause of LIFE. I complained to God about the apathy I saw in others about abortion and how frustrating it was. As I prayed God began to show me that HE was my source for everything I needed in the ministry. He helped me to see that I needed to filter every need through Him first and He would supply the resources and help. I had to trust Him.
Having high expectations of others will create a complaining attitude and will steal our joy in serving. The story about Mary and Martha in the Bible is a good example. The exchange between Jesus and Martha went like this:
“She [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:39-42NIV)
I used to think that the moral of this story was that Mary was the better person (although that was not exactly expressed) because she chose to set at Jesus feet, rather than work. Martha, on the other hand, was getting things done. I remember thinking, well somebody had to work or nobody would eat. As I thought about it and prayed about it, I realized that we can be both Mary and Martha. In fact, I believe we must be both! I think Jesus was telling Martha that had she sat at Jesus feet first – before she served, she may not have had such high expectations of her sister or been frustrated with her. Spending time with Jesus would have abolished her worried and troubled spirit and she would have enjoyed serving a whole lot more! There’s something about sitting at Jesus’ feet that changes our perspectives and expectations of others.