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"Being" More Than "Doing"

This is a re-post from Family Christian. It is part 2 of Lisa Rowell's podcast.

Can we talk about To-Do lists today? 

Most moms I know have one. Or to be more accurate: multiple To Do lists. We have our own personal To-Do list. A To-Do list for each child, which could be split into school, home, and activity To-Do lists with soccer practices, games, haircuts, homework assignments, permission form deadlines, birthday parties for classmates, and pick up and drop offs. 

We have a To-Do list for our home, for our spouse, for our work, for our volunteering, for our pets, for our cars, for our vacations. And our calendars are basically To Go versions of our To-Do lists. Right? I mean they basically list all the places we need to go and when in order to mark off some of the things on one of our many to do lists.  

Whether you write your lists down or not, I know you have a never-ending, on-going, to infinity and beyond To-Do list. 

Moms are doers. Some of us come to this way of DOING naturally and some come to this way of DOING by necessity. It’s purely for survival. 

It’s no wonder the most common response moms give and receive to the question: How are you doing? Many of us get caught up and overwhelmed at the size of our lists. We have no idea how we’ll get it all done. And when we don’t, we feel like we failed or vow to work even harder and for more hours of the day. Or we break.  

Striving to Do More vs Abiding in Christ 

Striving to do more is not God’s plan for us, for you.  

Jesus tells us in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 

The Fruit Jesus is talking about is the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. 

So practically speaking, what does that have to do with, well, our To-Do Lists? 

When we abide in Christ, the HOW we approach our To-Do Lists shifts.  

When we PAUSE and view our To Do list through the eyes of abiding in Jesus, we can realize that our To-Be list matters more than our To-Do list.  

** Be with Him.  

** Be loving. 

** Be forgiving.  

** Be kind.  

** Be patient.  

** Be gentle.  

** Be identified as His follower by the Fruit we bear. 

Consider Mary and Martha 

If you’ve been around church a while, you know the story found in Luke 10:38-42. Martha managed the household To-Do list while her sister Mary rested at the feet of Jesus. To be honest, at face value that story makes it seem so black and white. You either tackle the To-Do list or you rest at the feet of Jesus. It’s either or—one or the other. 

Digging into the scripture though the story becomes more nuanced than that, which is a great thing for us moms. Because sometimes … okay, most days … we have things that MUST get done in order to care for our children, including feeding them!  

With Martha, it wasn’t the length of her To-Do List that was the problem. It was her approach. Verse 40 tells us: “But Martha was DISTRACTED by all the preparations that had to be made.”  

In the original Greek language, the word for DISTRACTED means to figuratively drag all around—like so many of us are dragged all around town and in our homes and at our work—marking things off our To-Do Lists. Or how our minds are DISTRACTED by our To Do Lists even when we are just hanging out with our family. 

Jesus gently tells her: “Martha, Martha you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.”   

Martha’s to-do list distracted her from sitting at Jesus’ feet learning how TO BE more like Him. She forgot the ONE THING … TO REMAIN close to Him. 

Jesus cares more about who we—who you—are becoming than what you are doing. 

What’s Your To-Be List? 

We are all about helping you experience a simple moment with Jesus. So here’s a very practical way to put that into practice. Write down a To-Be list for yourself. Ask God to reveal to you 2-3 ways He is leading you TO BE more like Jesus. That written To-Be List can serve as a daily VISUAL reminder that the Lord cares about the person you are becoming while the world focuses on what you are doing. Make the daily choice to focus on becoming rather than on doing.  

** Do you choose to focus more attention on your To Do list or your To Be list? 

** Which list is easier for you to focus on or comes more naturally to you? 

** How are your relationships impacted when you focus on becoming more like Jesus? 

A Prayer for You 

Jesus, thank you for inviting us to rest at your feet and to abide in you throughout our day. We confess that we sometimes get distracted by all we have to do as mothers. In those moments, please gently call us by name, just like you did to Martha, and remind us to focus on You and becoming more like You instead. Our heart’s desire is to abide in You and to bear the Fruit of the Spirit. Help our choices reflect that. 


(This is an edited transcript of “Your To Do List vs Your To Be List,” Episode 2 Here’s how to listen.)

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