Conversation: Joanna Weaver
Too busy for God
In a society where busyness not only plagues lives but is a
way of life, Christians and those in ministry are far from being immune to the
success syndrome. Best-selling author and AG minister's wife Joanna Weaver
tackled this issue in her book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding
Intimacy With God in the Busyness of Life. She recently spoke to Assistant
Editor Jennifer McClure about the book and her own journey from busyness for
God to intimacy with God.
tpe: What motivated you to write this book?
WEAVER: Originally I wanted to write a biblical novel about
Mary and Martha. But as I looked beyond our first introduction to the sisters
in Luke 10 to their response to Lazarus' death in John 11, as well as Mary's
anointing of Jesus in John 12, I realized there was more to the story. There
was evidence of a holy makeover, especially in Martha's life.
tpe: What do you mean by a "holy makeover"?
WEAVER: Martha went from being a doubt-filled woman who
questioned Christ's love and demanded, "Tell my sister to help me," in Luke 10
to a bereaved, yet faith-filled, woman in John 11 who leaves a houseful of
guests and runs down the road to meet Jesus. After that encounter, rather than
trying to pull Mary away from the presence of the Lord, Martha points her to
Jesus in verse 28.
tpe: Why did you choose the topic "finding intimacy with God
in the busyness of life"?
WEAVER: Our hearts long for intimacy with God. That's what
we were created for. But the living-room intimacy we long for will never come
from kitchen-service busyness for God. Believe me, I tried. I tried so hard.
tpe: Can you tell me more about your journey?
WEAVER: When we were associate pastors in Oregon, I would go
to bed thinking of all the things I should have done and all the things I did
but not very well. I was completely overwhelmed and trapped in Martha's success
I kept trying to work, work, work out my salvation, not
realizing that the rest of that Scripture says, "For it is God who works in you
to will and to act according to His good purpose" (Philippians 2:12,13, NIV). I
tried to do everything. I loved ministry, but I was a driven, driven woman.
In God's mercy, He let me come to the end of myself, which
was an incredible gift because that desperation caused me to really call out to
Him. Over the next few years God began to unveil the sweet mystery of grace
— that it's not what I do, it's what Christ has done and what He wants to
do in and through me.
tpe: Were you able to have a Mary heart while writing this
WEAVER: Writing this book was the hardest thing I've ever
done. I kept expecting holy dictation, but that didn't happen. It was an act of
faith to put words on paper and somehow believe God would breathe His Spirit
into it and lead me. I even argued that He should find someone else to write
the book, because discipline in my spiritual life has always been a struggle.
As a result, I definitely had a Mary heart while I wrote the
book because I was absolutely dependent on God. But I have to say that in a
regular setting I still have much to learn in the area of intimacy with God. I
truly want to worship like Mary, but the Martha inside keeps bossing me around.
The living room does not come naturally to me. I have to choose it. And that
means sometimes laying aside the kitchen duties in order to enjoy it.
tpe: Is there anything in particular that causes this
struggle in you? How have you dealt with it?
WEAVER: One of the reasons I struggle is my perfectionism,
but the Lord has taught me He isn't looking for perfection — He wants
relationship. He longs for intimacy with us, and I am coming to realize how
desperately I need my time with Him. It's really true that apart from Him I can
do nothing — nothing that will have long-lasting effects. I won't have
peace. I won't have joy. I need God's presence like a fish needs water.
tpe: What advice do you give to those who struggle with the
success syndrome and perfectionism?
WEAVER: Spend some time with the Lord. Leave the
kitchen-service busyness. Dry your hands. Let the dishes sit, and sit at Jesus'
feet. It's there in the living room that I receive life. It's where I hear His
rebuke. Now, I've heard His rebuke in the kitchen, but it didn't sound like
love there, it sounded like condemnation. When we're so busy for God and He
points out something wrong, we get really defensive. Doesn't He appreciate
everything we're doing for Him? But when we've had time sitting at His feet and
He points out something, we're quicker to agree with the diagnosis and invite
Him to bring a cure.
tpe: Though the book is written for a female audience, it
seems the principles would be applicable to men as well.
WEAVER: I've heard from a lot of men who say, "This is not
just a woman's book. In fact, could you write Having a Mark Heart in a Marty
I think distraction is something we all struggle with. Not
to mention the false belief we have to earn God's favor, when in reality He's
already placed His favor on us if we've accepted His gift and we are His children.
tpe: What do you hope Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World will accomplish in the lives of your readers?
WEAVER: My prayer has always been that women, number one,
would come to understand how deeply Jesus loves them and that a personal
relationship with Him is not dependent on a personality type or a gifting.
Second of all, I really hope they come away with tools to do that, because
until I was 28 years old and took my first discipleship course as a young
pastor's wife, I didn't know how to have a quiet time. I knew I was supposed
to, but I had no idea how.
tpe: When did you get started in full-time ministry?
WEAVER: When I was 19, I married John Weaver. We entered
full-time ministry two weeks after we got married. I remember setting up 40
chairs on Wednesday nights for youth service and having 35 empty ones. The Lord
really used those early years to show me ministry isn't about success; it's
about faithfulness. What He does with my life and the results are up to Him. My
job is to be obedient.
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources by Joanna Weaver are available at www.gospelpublishing.com.