Would you say you’re a Mary or a Martha? It would be difficult to find an American Christian woman who hasn’t struggled to be more like Mary, the Christ-follower who sat at Jesus’ feet while her overworked sister, Martha, labored in the kitchen.
So, what if you are a Martha? Is that okay?
This often quoted Bible story from Luke 10 seems to suggest that wanting to serve, achieve, and accomplish things as Martha did was wrong. But today’s podcast guest helps us understand that’s simply not the case.
Author Katie M. Reid clarifies what Jesus meant in this passage and explains that it’s okay to be productive and get things done. So that means you don’t have to feel less spiritual than your laid-back, easygoing friends! But instead, you can embrace your God-given, go-getter personality while learning how—and when—to let go and rest.
So, to all of the doers out there, it’s time to cast off the guilt! It’s possible to be a doer while still resting in God’s presence, and today you’ll learn how.
But first, let me introduce Katie…
Katie is an author and speaker who describes herself as a “firstborn overachiever and a modern-day Martha.” She has published articles with the Huffington Post, Focus on the Family, iBelieve, and Crosswalk, just to name a few. She’s also a wife of a youth pastor and a homeschooling mom of five children, and she and her family live in the middle of Michigan.
Today we’re talking about Katie’s book, Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done. And as a busy woman with a lot of responsibility—like many of us—Katie can’t sit idle all day. There are mouths to feed and people to care for.
So, you’ll appreciate her fresh perspective on how we balance doing what needs to be done while also choosing what Jesus describes as “better” in verse 42. Throughout our conversation, you’ll hear her answer some really practical questions, including:
- Why do I feel guilty when I read the story of Mary and Martha?
- Can I be in God’s presence and working at the same time?
- Why has God left it all up to me, and doesn’t He see what I’m going through?
- How would quiet time with the Lord motivate me to tackle my to-do list?
- Is God only with me in my quiet time?
Katie shares so much encouragement and biblical wisdom in this conversation, and I can’t wait for you to hear it. She’ll help you see how a relationship with Jesus changes our hearts as we carry out our work.
So even in the midst of all our tasks, our hearts are settled instead of striving. We have peace instead of panic. We understand that God is pleased with us, not because of what we do or don’t do, but because of what He has done for us. And we’re not trying to earn God’s favor, but we’re enjoying His presence as we’re checking things off our to-do list.
Can you see the difference?
In your heart, you can rest at Jesus’ feet, even as you serve and work. You can have peace on the inside, even while your hands are busy. And you can do what God has called you to do even while being still in His presence.
You can do it, sister, because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
[Listen to the podcast using the player above, or read the transcript below. Then check out the links below for more helpful resources.]
Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- God is Just Not Fair: Finding Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
- Missing Pieces: Real Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
More from Katie M. Reid
- Visit Katie’s website
- Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done
- A Very Bavarian Christmas
- Follow Katie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Links Mentioned in This Episode
Related Blog Posts
- Can I Take Back My Time? With Christy Wright [Episode 185]
- Can I Find Grace-Based Rhythms for Spending Time With God? With Naomi Vacaro [Episode 196]
- Can I Embrace the Simple Practice of Hospitality? With Karen Ehman [Episode 149]
- Can I Let Go of Hustle and Rest in God? With Christy Nockels [Episode 146]
- Can I Trust God Even When He Doesn’t Seem Fair? [Episode 10]
- Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the 4:13 Podcast here.
- Were you encouraged by this podcast? Reviews help the 4:13 Podcast reach more women with the “I can” message. Click here to leave a review on iTunes.
4:13 Podcast: Can I Be a Doer and Still Rest in God’s Presence? With Katie M. Reid [Episode 201]
Katie Reid: I'm a firstborn girl. Love a good To Do list. Even love checking things off the list better than making the list. And I think a lot of women just feel like there's something wrong with being a doer or it's not as holy as being more of a sitter in God's presence.
K.C. Wright: Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you up to live the "I Can" life, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
Now welcome your host, Jennifer Rothschild.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, hey, our people. Jennifer Rothschild coming at you from the back deck.
K.C. Wright: Oh, this is my favorite place.
Jennifer Rothschild: So we told you, if you've been with us all summer, that we were getting out of the closet for the summer.
K.C. Wright: I love the Rothchild homestead, but your back porch is my favorite.
Jennifer Rothschild: It's just so peaceful back here.
K.C. Wright: Oh, my goodness.
Jennifer Rothschild: We've been trying to dodge the lawn mowers, though. Y'all understand that. It's probably the same way in your neighborhood right now.
But, yeah, this is a good place to be. Missing the podcast closet just a little bit, K.C., but not much.
K.C. Wright: Well, the podcast closet smells like coffee and candles.
Jennifer Rothschild: That's true.
K.C. Wright: We're out here in the nature. And we're both in these rocking chairs, which make me feel 120.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, I wish you could see them. They're brown wicker.
K.C. Wright: Yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: And there's some wind chimes over to my left.
K.C. Wright: And Lucy's walking under my feet, and she's got a new shirt on that says, "I'm a Lover, Not a Biter."
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, she does. Yes, she does.
But it's a pretty day and it's perfect for what we're talking about, because we're talking about stressing less and smiling more. I mean, just doesn't that make you happy, y'all?
K.C. Wright: It does.
Jennifer Rothschild: It should, it should make you happy.
But here's the question. Okay? So I want to ask you a question as we start. Are you a doer? Okay? Are you a doer? Because I know K.C. is. I know I am. And maybe let me ask you this: Are you the kind of person who gets a buzz from checking things off your To Do list?
K.C. Wright: Yes. I actually have a list on my phone. And it comes with a little circle and I check it.
Jennifer Rothschild: I know. And it makes you happy, right?
K.C. Wright: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. Well, sometimes if you're that person, your level of productivity or the way you get things done, it can be like a source of comment from people, like they can kind of shame you or make fun of you. Or maybe even people, like, if you're that productive, can make you feel like you're less spiritual than those laid back, easy-going friends. Some of you know what I'm talking about. So if that's you, today author Katie Reid is going to encourage you to embrace your God-given personality. And she's also going to help you discover when it's time to rest and when it's time to retreat. I'm telling you, this is some good stuff. This is like rocking chair worthy conversation. So we're going to get this conversation going because you need to hear from Katie Reid.
K.C. Wright: Katie Reid is an author and speaker who describes herself as a first-born overachiever and a modern-day Martha. She's published articles with Huffington Post, Focus on the Family, iBelieve, and Crosswalk, to name just a few. Katie is a wife of a youth pastor and a home-schooling mom of five children.
Jennifer Rothschild: How does she get anything done?
K.C. Wright: That's what I'm saying. You have time to write, girl?
Jennifer Rothschild: I know.
K.C. Wright: And they all live in the middle of Michigan, and it's cold there. Today she and Jennifer are talking about her book "Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done." And I just believe this with all my heart, you're going to really enjoy this. Are you ready? There's room at the table for you. Pull up a seat.
Jennifer Rothschild: Katie, I'm super glad we get to talk about this today because it is such a thing. This is a thing. So we're going to start with this thing, this universal thing. Why do you think that the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible makes so many women feel guilty?
Katie Reid: Well, from personal experience, this is how I used to feel. Because I would read this passage from Luke 10:38-42 of Jesus, you know, scolding Martha. She wanted help in the kitchen. What's wrong with that, right?
Jennifer Rothschild: Right.
Katie Reid: And I so wanted him to just tell Mary, her sister, to help her out. But he doesn't. He says, "Martha, Martha, you're worried and distracted by so many things, but Mary has chosen basically what's better." And so I used to read this through the lens of, well, Mary must be better. I mean, always, right?
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.
Katie Reid: She is the poster child for getting it right. And it would induce just guilt or shame, or more actually angst, like, what is wrong with asking for some help? Because I so related to Martha. I'm a first-born girl, love a good To Do list. Even love checking things off the list better than making the list. And I think a lot of women just feel like there's something wrong with being a doer or it's not as holy, you know, as being more of a sitter in God's presence. And so, of course, we know it's important to be in his presence, but I believe we can be in his presence whether we're working or sitting or worshipping or even dusting.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
Katie Reid: I don't do much of that, but I hear it's a thing.
Jennifer Rothschild: I hear it's a thing too. I don't remember. In fact, my bathroom is a lot less clean than it used to be when I was younger. I hear it's a thing that you should clean it weekly. I just have forgotten that evidently. I'm just not real persistent with all my cleaning like I used to be. Maybe this old Mary/Martha message, I've taken it wrong.
But here's the thing. Because I'm similar, Katie. I am a doer and I have felt that guilt too -- I know a lot of women have -- because it almost looks like Jesus is pitting one against the other. And we know that's not what he's doing. But when you read the story, it sounds like Jesus could have been, like, really getting down on Martha, like, criticizing her for working too hard. So do you think that's what was happening there? Give us your take on that.
Katie Reid: Well, we know from other passages -- because this is not the only passage about Martha and Mary, thank goodness, right? But there is a verse, John 11:5, that says Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. And so that kind of sets the record straight in some ways. Like, he loved each of them, and they were very different.
Also, throughout Scripture we see that God disciplines those he loves. And I think in our current day and age, where correction is all -- let me say that again. People often take offense at correction. Like, "Well, you think I'm awful," when maybe just what we're doing is awful -- right? -- or just not the best choice. But Jesus says he disciplines those he loves. And he's treating us as sons and his daughters when he does that, and so I think if we can press into that. He loved Martha so much that he was willing to correct her because of that love. And I'm sure she is not chill when she is stressed about all this stuff, and so he's inviting her, I believe, to a place of peace on the inside, even while her hands are busy, and inviting her, I think, to rest knowing that it's not all up to her.
You know, in this passage, Martha uses some language like, "I've been left all alone" --
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
Katie Reid: -- and, "Lord, don't you care?" And, Jennifer, I wonder how many listeners, and us included, have said that to God. "God, I feel like it's all up to me, and don't you care what I'm going through?" And so I call this the hired help mentality, or some people call it the orphan spirit, or even a spirit of scarcity, where you just think, I'm being hung out to dry. And I believe that God was inviting Martha into daughtership and not just this slave mentality. But we get to do this together, Martha. You're not all alone. And, yes, you might be the one actually preparing the meal, but have you forgotten, like, I'm here? Jesus saying this, you know, my paraphrase. Like, his presence was right in the room with her, and she was so busy and bothered by these stressors that she missed it.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, that's such a good explanation, Katie, because -- well, Scripture said Martha was worried about many things; Mary had chosen the one thing. So I think what I hear you saying is that we can still experience the one thing in the midst of the many things? Is that kind of what you're saying Jesus is inviting us into?
Katie Reid: Absolutely. One of his names is Emmanuel, God With Us. And sometimes when I have a lengthy To Do list, I am like, okay, I'll get to relationship after I finish these tasks. And I believe that Jesus is saying you can have relationship even in the midst of these tasks. And it might look different, but sometimes, like I said, it's more that settledness instead of striving, more of a peace instead of panic, even when the end of the To Do list is not in sight.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. And keeps growing. Yeah.
In your book, you make a really interesting comparison, I thought, between the way Satan twists God's words to Eve in the Book of Genesis and the way we interpret Jesus' words to Martha there in Luke. So tell us a little more about that.
Katie Reid: Yeah. So in the Garden of Eden, God says to Adam and Eve, "You can eat from any tree but one." And, Jennifer, why is it that we focus on the "but one"? Right? Like, you can do all these things, but don't do this. It's not good for you. And so why is that the one thing we want to do? So Satan comes in -- right? -- and says, "Did God really say?" You know, so he's casting doubt. And then Eve adds to what God said. She goes, "We can't eat from that and we can't even touch it." Which he hadn't said that, right?
Jennifer Rothschild: He didn't say that, yeah.
Katie Reid: She was adding things to it. And I believe on a smaller scale, in Luke 10:38-42, we've done the same thing. We've added these things like, well, Martha must be bad, it must be bad to be a doer. He didn't love her. We should always just want to be like Mary, not like Martha. And we know from other passages, Jennifer, that Jesus revealed himself, his true identity, to Martha when they're talking about their brother Lazarus dying. You know, he says to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?" and she says, "Yes, Lord."
I mean, Martha had great faith. And I think sometimes aren't we glad, hopefully, that people aren't focusing on that one bad choice we made or the one five bad choices, when maybe we've made 20 good choices? But it's a learning opportunity for us. And I believe that Satan has twisted it, that he wants those of us who are more wired to get things done and to do and to serve in that way, to have that angst and that same stress and question God's love for us. Which I think Adam and Eve probably did too, like, well, if he really loved us, wouldn't he let us eat from any tree? And it's like, because he loved them, he set up that boundary.
And I think the same is true for us. When we're wired to do and do, he knows we need that loving boundary of spending time in his presence because that is good for us, too. And, in fact, I don't know about you, Jennifer, but when I take the time to sit with the Lord, I'm actually more productive because I feel that settledness in my spirit versus kind of like, oh, I didn't have my quiet time, that's one more thing that I just need to do.
Jennifer Rothschild: Right. Well, because -- you're right, it reduces quiet time, time with the Lord, to just another thing on the To Do list. And it's not. It becomes fuel for, motivation for the To Do list.
And it's interesting to me, Katie, because, you know, like you, this has been a story for me that -- even though I do understand it as much as I can right now, I still have moments when I'm like, well, Jesus, couldn't you have just said? You know, couldn't you have given a little more explanation? Couldn't you have built up Martha? Because who's going to get the spaghetti ready if Mary's just sitting there devoting herself to Jesus? And so I still think we get this -- we can feel that sense of angst, I think is the word you used earlier -- which is a good word -- that, well, Jesus prefers one over the other.
Katie Reid: Right.
Jennifer Rothschild: And so obviously he does not. Okay. We know that because his love is unconditional. So how do we overcome that kind of feeling that God thinks one personality type or one style of serving is better than another? Because we do that in different ways. We transfer that to, well, if someone has a public ministry and they're on a big stage, well, clearly, you know, they're more effective for the Kingdom than me who brings bread to my neighbor. So how do we overcome that kind of comparison thing that happens in that Mary/Martha story?
Katie Reid: Well, I think -- you know, I'm thinking of Psalm 139. You know, he knit us in our mother's womb. We're fearfully and wonderfully made. And my family just got back from a vacation to Disney World. And I didn't expect to tear up on, as some people call one of the most annoying rides, It's A Small World, right?
Jennifer Rothschild: Right.
Katie Reid: But I did, Jennifer, because I saw all these different hues and shades and personalities and flavors from all over the globe, right? And it was like God is so creative to make these different nuances in how people look and how they act and their preferences of what they eat. And I was just overcome by, one, how small the world really is, but also just -- it was like a taste of heaven, of that's what it's going to be like. And I'm so glad that God didn't make everyone the same. And I think it's kind of this age-old problem that we want to be somebody that we're not.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
Katie Reid: I don't know how you feel about tattoos, Jennifer. I never thought I would get one, but I do have one.
Jennifer Rothschild: You got a tattoo? Liberated you.
Katie Reid: I do.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well done.
Katie Reid: And I took my six-year-old daughter and she got one too. I don't even know who I am anymore. But I'm going to tell you what mine says. So I love -- this goes back to your question. But I love the Narnia movies and the books. And there's this scene where Lucy wants to be like her big sister Susan. And she has this dream where she is Susan and they're talking about -- she says something about Lucy, and the brother's like, "Who's Lucy?" Because Lucy didn't exist anymore. And then she goes kind of out of this vision and Aslan is right there looking in the mirror as Lucy's looking in the mirror, and he says, "You doubt your value. Don't run from who you are." So tattooed on my left foot is, "Don't Run From Who You Are."
Because I've always kind of been this big, bold personality. Even in the hospital nursery, I started crying, the rest of the babies followed suit. I guess it was foreshadowing. But I need that reminder of God has wired me uniquely. He's wired you uniquely. He's wired the woman who is bringing bread to her neighbor in a unique and beautiful way. And we don't want to run from who he has made us to be, because as we lean into that wiring, it displays his glory. And I think it can be so hard because we know all our quirks and flaws and that we are far from perfect, but God delights in us. He sings over us. And he knows that our unique blend of DNA and how he's made us is actually bringing glory in a way nobody else could on earth to point to him. And so as we're tempted to kind of run from who we are or try to strip off our unique wirings, that he's like, no. I've made you fearfully and wonderfully, and I've made you that way on purpose. You know, the things that God has called me to, if I was wired differently, they would not get done. And he's given me a lot of things to get done.
But I want to share this story that I think helps illustrate this, and kind of settle this in our heart. We live in an A-frame home that was built in 1976. Original orange shag carpeting. And I'm not the most tidy housekeeper, even though I'm a Martha. But I was talking to a friend and she was talking to me about grace. And I grew up in the church, I've been a Christian since I was four, I'd heard about grace. I knew I was saved by grace, but yet I was trying to keep God happy, Jennifer, with all my good deeds, right?
Jennifer Rothschild: Right. Yeah.
Katie Reid: Legalism basically.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
Katie Reid: And in my mind, as my friend's talking to me, I got this picture of myself busily getting ready for company. I'm kind of like Hostzilla before company comes over. It's like, "Put those Legos under the couch and maybe we should dust after all." And I'm busy getting ready, and I turn and there's Jesus, you know, metaphorically, hypothetically on a La-Z-Boy recliner reading the newspaper, of all things. And this is kind of my modern-day Martha moment, right?
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. Yeah.
Katie Reid: And he's like, "Katie, come, sit with me." And he was inviting me, Jennifer, to sit on the arm of the chair, which in my mother-in-law's house that is not allowed. You know, he's like, "Come, sit. Take a break." I'm like, "Jesus" -- I'm quoting Scripture, kind of like Satan does to Jesus in the wilderness. I'm like, "But, Jesus, faith without works is dead," as if he doesn't know. And he's like, "Come, sit. There's time for that. But you've forgotten that I live here. I'm not company to impress, I am family to enjoy." And he reminded me that grace, it's a gift that I am to receive. It's not this prize I earn. He already won that prize on the cross by finishing his To Do list. You know, he said on the cross, "It is finished." Hallelujah say all the Marthas, right?
Jennifer Rothschild: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Katie Reid: But what I realized he helped me realize in that moment was there is time for the good works, but they should be a response to already being loved and to his love, not a way to try to earn that love. Because we already have his love if we've received him and believe in him. He lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose again that we could be reconciled to God. You know, that chasm that was caused through Adam and Eve's sin in the garden, God sent Jesus to bridge that gap.
And so when we enter into that relationship as sons and daughters, he has works prepared for us to do. But those we do because we're so thankful. It's not this grasping and clawing to be accepted, because we already are. And I think whether you're more like Martha or Mary, knowing that his love is settled in you and that he lives -- whether it's on a throne or a La-Z-Boy, right? -- sitting at the right hand of the Father and in your heart, at home in you, it changes everything.
Jennifer Rothschild: It really does. That's such a beautiful picture. And I just got to tell you, I already liked you, Katie. But knowing you live in an A-frame with orange shag carpet makes me think you are ultra groovy and I like you even more. That is fantastic. That is a beautiful picture, seriously. Beautiful.
Katie Reid: I was going to say, the orange shag isn't great for allergies, but it is good for leaving your shoes on if you come over, because Cheetos have been lost, Legos have been lost. It's all good.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, and, dude, you're going to be ahead of the trend. I'm sure it's coming back. I am sure it is coming back.
All right, let's end practical. This is so good, Katie. So good. So last question here. How can we sit at Jesus' feet, like Mary did, even in the midst of working and raising kids and pulling off our To Do list? Give us some practical ways we could do that.
Katie Reid: Well, you know, I'm thinking about a book by Brother Lawrence called "Practicing the Presence of God," where he, I believe, was a monk and he had to wash the dishes. And he would practice God's presence right there. Because I think sometimes we think that God's only there in the quiet time. But he's actually there in the minivan, he's there at the grocery store, you know, he's there when we're in the counseling office and it's all falling apart. His presence goes with us.
And here's just a real quick way that we can live more settled. It's three words we all know very -- it's "yes," "no," and "help." And we want to say yes to God's assignments. Whether we're more like Martha or Mary, we want to be about his business, just like Jesus was on earth. But the thing is, Jesus did not do all the things. He did everything he was called to do, but he did not do everything. Right? He did do -- you know what I'm saying.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.
Katie Reid: He did everything he needed to.
Jennifer Rothschild: No, I know, mm-hmm.
Katie Reid: And so we want to say yes to him.
But we want to say no to those things that we're just adding, maybe for approval or because we feel guilted into it or even manipulated into saying yes to something. We want to have boundaries because those are good and right. And so there are things on my To Do list that God hasn't even put there. I've added extra stress for whatever reason that is. You know, and I'm thinking about single moms that are listening who are thinking, yeah, I would love to say no to things, but if I don't do it, who is. Right?
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, yeah.
Katie Reid: And so that's where this last word comes in, help. And this is one that's so hard for us women in this modern day -- right? -- to say help because we feel like it's weakness. But it's actually wisdom. If we're able to delegate to people, that's wisdom, not weakness. You know, if we are able to admit that we need help with something, it's going to help someone else to shine and to grow. When I started writing, my husband told my kids, "Mom's not doing the dishes anymore." And I felt really guilty about that, like, oh, no, they're going to be in therapy about this when they're older, right? But they started loading the dishwasher. Not how I would have done it, mind you, but I had to step back and let them do that. And they're getting better and better and better at that. But that was one area that gave me more margin. And it helped me, but it was helping them to grow as well.
So "yes" to God's assignments, "no" to guilt and manipulation or just those extra things that we haven't even been asked to do, and then "help." I think those three kind of little but powerful words can really help us live more settled in this busy world.
K.C. Wright: "Yes," "no," and "help." Those are three little and powerful words for sure.
Jennifer Rothschild: Dude, isn't that's the truth?
K.C. Wright: Yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: I mean -- yeah. So we say yes to God's assignment, no to the add-ons, and help. Asking for help, you know, it's not weakness. It's wisdom. And I think sometimes we get 'er done'ers forget that.
I thought Katie shared so much encouragement and biblical wisdom here today, so I know you're going to want to check out her book.
K.C. Wright: And heavenly help is available for you. I think it's one of the most powerful prayers you can say as a child of God, saying, "Father, Daddy, help," and all heaven will run to your aid.
Jennifer Rothschild: Amen.
K.C. Wright: We will have a link to this incredible podcast on the show notes at 413podcast.com/201. And also, you can read the transcript from this rich conversation right there, in case you missed.
Jennifer Rothschild: In case you were busy getting something done --
K.C. Wright: Yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: -- instead of listening. But you do want to check out her book, so make sure you go to the show notes, because there's so much good resource there for you. And I hope you're having a little bit more free time this summer to be able to just learn and grow and spend some time with the Lord and with some good books.
So to you doers out there, put on your list to get Katie's book so that you can mark it off your list once you do it. And remember, you can rest while you work. You can be productive and you can still have peace, because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. I can.
K.C. Wright: I can.
Jennifer and K.C.: And you can.
K.C. Wright: You really can.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, you can. But I'm not going to do one more thing today.
K.C. Wright: No.
Jennifer Rothschild: I'm just going to sit here on this deck.
K.C. Wright: I know. You don't even want to leave from this moment. You know, we've had such cold, dreary days in Missouri that I don't even mind the little heat that we have right now.
Jennifer Rothschild: No, me neither.
K.C. Wright: Yeah, I'm thankful for it. Yeah.
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