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.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Goal-Setting for 2018
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5
Good morning Prayer Team!
If you ask someone, “How are you?” and they respond “My life is going terrible,” will you have the time right then and there to stop what you are doing and help them? What if they are a total stranger like a waitress in a restaurant or a teller at the bank?
We ask the question “How are you?” to many people each day. This question is not only exchanged with friends and co-workers but with bank tellers, store clerks and strangers in line at Starbucks.
The sad fact, is that most people lie as regards this question just about every time they ask it. If I ask the teller at the bank “How are you?” I’m certainly hoping that the answer is “fine,” because I want to quickly transact my business and leave.
On the flip side, what about when our day is not going fine and someone asks us how we are doing, will we answer truthfully to a stranger, or even more sadly, to a friend, or will we just say “fine” no matter how we feel.
This conversation “How are you?” “Fine.” “And you?” “Fine as well.” This conversation takes place every day. And if this is the only conversation that takes place every day between everybody, our society will become more “plastic,” more distant from one another. Because what builds relationships, friendship, and love between people is vulnerability. And vulnerability is when we take the chance and say “I’m not doing well,” and the person we say this to says “I care, let me help.”
Being vulnerable is hard. While it may come easier for some than others, it is certainly not easy or fun for anyone. Of course, the reward of being vulnerable is close, loving relationships with people. And this is why “vulnerability” is part of the goal-setting unit for the beginning of 2018. Make it a goal this year to find people with whom you can be vulnerable. And when you find someone or some people, then put aside ego and pride and be humble and vulnerable. When someone else needs someone to be vulnerable with, lend an ear that can keep a secret and won’t pass judgment.
To be vulnerable requires humility if you are the one sharing. And if you are the one listening to another being vulnerable, it requires discretion (keeping a secret) and not passing judgment. Thus, in setting goals for 2018, make vulnerability and all of its related areas—humility, discretion, and non-judgment—priorities in your daily life. If you can do this, find trustworthy friends and be a trustworthy friend, to foster relationships where it is safe to be vulnerable, you’ll make more close friendships, feel less alone when you are down, and feel more encouraged when life gets tough.
Building relationships starts with respect, which leads to commonality (spending time together) which leads to interest, which leads to trust, which leads to vulnerability, which leads to love, which is what God wants to experience with others. And while we may not reach the vulnerable stage with everyone, (nor should we) it is important in life that we experience it with a few trusted friends we can confide in, who will lift us up when we are down, who can listen without judging and who can encourage us to be the best version of ourselves. As today’s scripture verse says, we are to have humility toward one another, “for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” In living relationships, when people come to the table with humility and vulnerability, not only do they experience love but God’s grace as well.
Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new son, His praise in the assembly of the faithful! Let Israel be glad in his Maker, let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing, making melody to Him with timbrel and lyre! For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with victory. Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches. Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to wreak vengeance on the nations and chastisement on the people, to bind their kinds with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is glory for all His faithful ones. Praise the Lord!
Develop relationships where it is safe to be vulnerable!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: Hey Sigmund
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