What is the premise behind your new book, She Did What She Could?
Most of us care deeply about the needs around us – poverty, injustice, everyday concerns of those in our families and in our offices and in our neighborhoods. But faced with the challenges of getting food on the table and children to and from activities and keeping up with our jobs etc, we feel more than a little overwhelmed. Who has the time or the energy to start another nonprofit or to participate in yet another celebrity-help-the-world-athon? We conclude we have to do something BIG to make a difference. Not true. We don’t have to do something BIG to make a difference. In a Bible story where Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus with a beautiful gift of perfume before his death, Jesus applauds her action saying, “She did what she could.” We can make a difference every day by simply doing what we could in the given moment before us.
When did the idea for this book/movement come to you?
I’d been reading what I call the “Girl Stories” in the gospels – stories where a woman is the main character. I was stopped in my tracks by Mary’s acting out her love for Jesus and by his pairing her action with the gospel. Mary lived loved. She acted out her faith by doing something with who she was and what she had in a moment that mattered. At the same time I was reading that story, I was suddenly overwhelmed by issues in our world like the HIV-AIDS pandemic and poverty and needs everywhere I turned. I began to think about the power of one of us acting and then another and another. I began to prayerfully wonder – what if I did what I could – just like Mary did? And then each of us did what we could? The whole world could be changed!
What percentage of church members are active in ministry?
It’s reported that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.
What reasons do you think members have for not serving?
Lots of folks don’t participate due to the busyness of life and the perception that unless we do something BIG it won’t make a difference. We feel guilty that we can’t do MORE. We feel inadequate because we aren’t more godly – or because of something hidden in our past. We feel incompetent because we aren’t trained. We’re tired and overwhelmed. And then there’s the fact that lots of us aren’t even “members” of a church. We’re not sure what to do with church – even though we love Jesus. We have a million struggles that keep us from “doing”. SDWSC gives a bite-size offering to everyone to participate in living out our faith and making a difference.
Do you feel that many church members are intimidated by those who are very involved at church?
You bet. If you’re not in the “in crowd” or gifted with public gifs like teaching or are marginalized in some way, it’s WAY intimidating to step up and say, ”Hey, I’d like to help.” SDWSC welcomes ALL to join in and act. It refreshes those who are weary in well-doing as well.
In the book, you point out that this message of everyone doing what they can is Biblical. What story are you referring to specifically?
The story is told in Mark 14 but is also told in Matthew and John as well. Just before Jesus’ death on the cross for the sins of all humankind, Mary of Bethany took a jar of nard, a very expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus – as a symbol of anointing his body before his death. In a moment when the gesture would mean the most to him. You get the impression that Mary hadn’t really planned out this action. It seems more spontaneous. And while the nard was expensive, that wasn’t the main point. Mary acted out of her understanding that Jesus really was the Christ and he really loved her. She wanted to give back. She took what she had – nard – and acted with it in a moment that mattered to Jesus and to the world. She did what she could.
You’ve shared your message with the MOPS organization. What has the response been so far to the SDWSC (She Did What She Could) movement?
Moms are passionate about being the best moms they can be. They’re also passionate to make a difference in their world. They know that they may not be able to do something GIANT in the day to day of raising children. SDWSC gives them a methodology for acting in a way that matters in their daily lives. With a neighbor or a coworker. With a child. To care for the earth. To reach out to someone who has less and needs more. Moms have pasted the SDWSC flare on their Facebook pages and are telling the SDWSC stories, encouraging others to do what they can as well.
How do you hope churches and ministries will use your message to mobilize their members?
Those who’ve never served can be invited to join in with the practical – doable – message of SDWSC. And those who are weary in well-doing can be encouraged that Jesus doesn’t ask us to do EVERYTHING or ALL we could but rather WHAT we could do.
How do you hope readers can change their lives with your message?
She did what she could (SDWSC) is a mantra that rules my days as opportunities come before me. I run each through the grid of SDWSC. Is it something that I can uniquely handle? Is it a moment that matters NOW? Will I make a difference if I do WHAT I could – not ALL or EVERYTHING I could? I hope and pray that readers will do the same. She did what she could. When I do what I could and you do what you could and we do what we could – we can change the world. We can be the body of Christ in action, on the earth, demonstrating individually and together what it means to live loved.
Elisa Morgan is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of more than fifteen books, including the best–selling What Every Mom Needs and Mom’s Devotional Bible. Elisa has served as CEO of MOPS International since 1989. She is also the publisher of MomSense and FullFill magazines and is a frequent contributor to Christianity Today. Elisa is married to Evan (vice president of strategic development for RBC Ministries, known internationally for Our Daily Bread, and founder of christiancourses.com). They have two grown children and one grandchild and live in Centennial, Colorado.