Martha, Mary, and Myers-Briggs, by Deacon Greg Lambert

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By Deacon Greg Lambert, Catholic Stand, 6 August AD 2019

The Myers-Briggs Test and Personality Assessment, a measurement tool in assessing different human temperaments, has been used in both the corporate world and in church communities since 1944 in determining different personality types. The four temperaments, as they were initially called, included “meditative” and “executive.” The account of Martha and Mary, as recounted in the Gospel of Luke, gives us a glimpse into these two categories:

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:40-42 NABRE)

Determining whether you are a “Martha” or a “Mary” has become an informal qualifying question in religious circles, particularly for those involved in ministry. More often than not, the response indicates a combination of both. Prayer and action should be complementary, and not mutually exclusive.

In today’s world, there are plenty of things to be “anxious and worried” about. In the temporal realm, time taken to reflect and plan should precede any important action we undertake. Putting “first things first”, as Mary did, was commended by Jesus, and offered to Martha as a template for discipleship: prayer and counsel first, followed by acting on careful discernment. Jesus offers this advice:  ….