Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: WHERE DO YOU STAND?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27
Jesus said, “Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” Matthews 18:19
Good morning Prayer Team!
The word “compromise” has two meaning that are almost opposites. On the one hand, a compromise can bring parties that are not unified into some kind of unity. And on the other hand, to “compromise” a situation, or a situation that is “compromised” means that what was once a solid situation if not brought into a state of being undesirable. For instance, the security of a company can be compromised by computer hacking. And, playing on words, so to speak, a failure to reach a compromise (reach some sense of unity) can compromise (threaten) a relationship.
Compromise can be a difficult proposition because when there are two differing points of opinion, meeting in the middle can upset both parties, while doing what one party wants will in many cases upset the other. And so perhaps “compromise” is not the correct word. Because if I say “five” and you say “ten” and then we say “let’s meet in the middle at 7”, then both parties can end up being upset.
Perhaps the better word to use is “consensus,” which means to work towards the solution we can best live with. Consensus, or compromise, begins by finding common ground, common goals. For instance, when a couple is having serious relationship issues, one of the first questions I might ask is “do you wish to be married to your spouse for the rest of your life?” If the answer is “yes,” then I follow up with another question, which is “do you wish to be happily or unhappily married for the rest of your life?” If we get past the first question, the answer to the second one is always “yes.” Having now established TWO points of agreement, the desire to be married and the desire for happiness, it is easy to move into the next question, which is “what makes your spouse happy?” If this can be identified and there is a commitment to work towards happiness, there is now three points of agreement that can be used to move past whatever impasse brought the couple into my office.
Obviously, fixing most problems isn’t this simple and I don’t mean to imply that it is. My point is that when there is a disagreement between two people, or between us and God, the first thing to do is find common ground, build some “consensus” about the common feelings and then use this as a foundation to tackle other issues.
Where is the common ground with the Lord? Well, He loves us, and we were created to love Him. He trusts us, we are supposed to trust in Him. He wishes for us to go to heaven, if we wish the same then we are on the same page. Getting on the same page with the Lord is as simple as prayer, as putting yourself with the Lord. And from there, other points of commonality strengthen the relationship.
One who builds consensus is good with the art of compromise, with giving and taking, while working for the overall good of the relationship or situation. The ability to compromise or unite despite differences of opinion is essential in any relationship because there cannot be one hundred percent agreement one hundred percent of the time in any relationships. The relationships that move forward in unity are the ones that have learned the art of compromise and concession when there is disagreement.
Compromise (from a spiritual perspective)—On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rank yourself on the following questions: Am I rigid in my thinking about spiritual things? Or is my heart open and malleable to better ways to live and express my faith?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Write down differences that you have between things you believe and things that the Lord tells us are true and right. Write down areas of our faith where you are in total agreement and areas where you disagree and write down why you disagree. Consider bringing some of those disagreements to a priest for clarification. Perhaps you are not as far off as you think, or you disagree for reasons that aren’t correct.
Compromise (from a relationship perspective)—When there is a difference of opinion between me and someone else, do I always have to win? When there is a difference between me and someone else, do I go first to what unites us, or what separates us?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Write down some disagreements you have with other people. Write down the person and the disagreement. Then write down your points of commonality and your differences and see how far off you really are.
Lord, help me to see the good in people. Help me be someone who looks for agreement. Help me to listen with an open mind to ideas that are different than mine. Help me to accept parts of our faith that perhaps I can’t understand or don’t agree with. Help me be someone who seeks to bring people together. Amen.
See more commonality than difference today!
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