September 6, 2016 • Life for Leaders
When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
One of the striking, and, frankly, sad aspects of Mark’s gospel is the description of Jesus’s relationship with his natural family. Mark does not give us any account of Jesus’s birth. The first mention of his family comes in Mark 3:21: “When his family heard about [what Jesus had been doing], they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” The people who had been closest to Jesus did not understand what he was doing and why. From their point of view, he was bringing shame upon the family. Moreover, sensing rightly that he was endangering his life through his ministry, they wanted to get him back to their village before it was too late.
Serve the Lord wherever he has called you, knowing that his approval means everything.
When those closest to you in life just don’t get you, this can be terribly discouraging. I think of a friend I’ll call “Brad.” Brad is a mature, committed Christian who has devoted much of his life to serving the Lord in a variety of excellent Christian organizations. Brad is highly regarded by his colleagues and those he has served. But, his family has not been supportive of Brad’s life and career choices, to say the least. His parents and siblings are not Christians, and are extremely successful people in their careers. They cannot grasp why Brad believes what he does about Jesus. They could, however, tolerate his strange beliefs. But his choice to work for relatively low compensation in organizations that advance the cause of Christ seems crazy to them. Brad, from their point of view, has wasted his extraordinary potential.
Brad, who is solid in his faith and clear about his calling, struggles to this day with his family’s disapproval. He wishes they could at least see the good he has done through his work. But he has learned to carry the weight of his family’s lack of support even as he energetically and creatively serves the Lord.
You may not face anything like this in your life. You may be blessed with a family that “gets” you and encourages you. If so, it’s worth stopping to be grateful for this gift and to express it to the Lord.
You may know someone like my friend Brad. If so, let me encourage you to be a consistent encourager of this person and to remember him or her in prayer on a regular basis.
You may find yourself in a position very much like Brad . . . and like Jesus. Your family may have a hard time supporting your sense of calling in life, whether you are working in a religious organization, non-profit, or a business. Perhaps you recently left a well-paying job to start your own company and your family thinks you’ve lost your marbles. Or maybe you’re turning down good clients to do lots of pro-bono work. No matter the specifics, if you’re not getting the support you would like from your family, know that Jesus understands. By his grace, remain firm in your commitments. Serve the Lord wherever he has called you, knowing that his approval means everything.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have you ever been in a situation rather like that of Jesus in Mark 3:21? Can you relate to the story of my friend Brad? If so, how was this for you? What did you do in response to the disapproval of your family?
What helps you to keep going when those around you are unsupportive or outright critical?
If you’re not in a situation like that of Jesus, can you think of someone who is? How might you encourage that person today?
Gracious God, I thank you for the support I am receiving from my family in my effort to follow you faithfully and to live out my calling. This is a gift I too often take for granted.
Yet, I can think of people who are not so blessed. Today I lift them up to you. Help them to be strong. Protect their hearts from discouragement. Bring into their lives people who can build them up. Most of all, Lord, reassure them by your blessing and presence in their lives.
May all of us, no matter our station in life, serve you faithfully in all we do. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Climbing the Ladder of Success—-Meaningless?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.