When Getting It Right Means Getting It Wrong

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You know well the story of the two sisters. Martha, distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. Mary, sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught.

Martha, trying to get everything right. She came to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me."

Jesus, who loved Martha enough to hurt her feelings: “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:42 New Living Translation)

Jesus affirms devotion over conscientious and dutiful busy work in the service of others.

Sometimes, getting everything right can mean getting the right thing wrong.

I do see some clergy falling into the trap of perfectionism and suffering because of it. A perfectionist may tend to:

  • Overwork

  • Fail to delegate

  • Resist empowering others

  • Fear mistakes or failure

  • Fret, stress and suffer anxiety

  • Fail to hear God’s changing direction

  • Close their minds to feedback from others

A perfectionist may even tend toward a critical spirit, as Martha experienced.

These harm not only the perfectionist pastor but the church, too. Frankly, the perfectionist may very well make decisions that have the effect of keeping the church small.

Why? Growth, change and progress demand delegation, trusting others, and generally letting go of control.

A perfectionists fear those things. What if mistakes are made? What if things don’t turn out like they should?

What if the meal prepared for the Lord does not turn out right?

John tells us that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).  Perfectionism – always fear-based – must be replaced with devoted love. Otherwise, Martha harms herself while Mary enjoys “the only one thing worth being concerned about.”

Pastor, consider this challenge. Where may you be getting something right – at the risk of getting the main thing wrong?

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