by Tom Yaccino
“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” - Jesus, Luke 10:41-42.
In the story of Martha and Mary we learn about the importance Jesus places on being present with one another.
Rather than doing things for Jesus, like her sister Martha… an exercise that produces impatience, stress and feelings self importance, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listened and connected in a powerful way. She humbled herself and served by being with and listening. Her actions demonstrated a deep love for Jesus.
This is what Jesus, who knew of the suffering that the next leg of his mission would bring in Jerusalem, really needed.
Recently after a vision trip to the Red del Camino network churches in Costa Rica with Palm Valley Church, I received a testimonial from one of the pastors who participated in the exchange.
The first big take away he mentioned was how amazed he was at the humility of the network leaders who took extensive amounts of time from their busy community oriented ministries and sat and listened attentively to each other, the visiting young leaders.
“One of the things that stuck out for me the most was the humility of every single one of the RdC network leaders. It was deeply humbling to see such passionate leaders of God who possess an incredible amount of wisdom be so down to earth as to sit with a bunch of young leaders like us, and converse for hours about ministry. Furthermore, the genuine love that each of them display towards each other and every single person they encounter is incredible.”
Sitting with one another. Sharing the table for a meal. Taking the time to hear each others stories.
This testimony reminded me of just how important being with one another and listening to one another’s stories is. It is an essential element to our participation in God’s mission of restoration.
The experience we recently shared in Costa Rica drove home for me the importance of creating these spaces for being together, hearing one another’s stories, and learning more about God and His mission of restoration through our lives as we walk together on the Way.
I confess that I was somewhat apologetic in creating these spaces for mutual learning and missional edification among church leaders, because I feared that many would not see the time invested, miles traveled and expense worthy of their missions resources. My timidity in proactively launching these opportunities developed over time as I heard leaders after leader question the idea of emphasizing “just” relationships as a basis for our shared participation in God’s mission.
The general tendency among church leaders today is to “steward our time well” and share of our resources in ways that bring about tangible results: a sermon, seminar or workshop, a consulting session with other leaders, even plain old physical labor. We can so easily attribute “value” or worth to ourselves or ministry efforts by the fruit of our labor, or results of our concrete actions and activities.
Like Martha, we often we equate loving service as doing something for someone rather than being with someone.
I know for a fact that network leaders have never attributed these gatherings as a “waste of time”. To the contrary, they have felt valued, encouraged and inspired by these connections!
The RdC Network in essence is gathering space for the faithful practitioners of integral mission.
The RdC Network is a place to “be” together that fuels what they do to reveal God’s Kingdom. When the network movement has been tempted to take a more activist role in doing things together, the common outcry is we need more time to just be together.
I want to be unashamedly more like Mary and create the spaces for more being together.
In the end, this cultivating of the relationships ends up preparing the fertile soil of our hearts for deeper roots, stonger connections to the vine and, as a result, much greater Kingdom fruit in all of its shapes, forms and colors!