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
Without a vision, the people perish. Proverbs 29:18
Good morning Prayer Team!
Our new unit about the Great Commandments—loving God and loving neighbor—is going to challenge each of us to not only evaluate where we are on many dimensions, it is going to challenge us to set goals in several areas that are key components to strong relationships with God and with one another.
In introducing this unit, let’s first discuss setting goals. A life without goals has no purpose, no point. It is just existence on a day-to-day, year-to-year basis. Whether we like it or not, we grow and change and so does the rest of the world, and if there aren’t goals in place to deal with the changes, then we are going to be quickly overwhelmed by the changing world. If we have no goals to improve ourselves, we are going to remain with the same struggles and same deficiencies except we will be dealing with them in a more complex world. So goals are necessary, not only for personal improvement, but in some sense, just to keep up with the changing world. As the above quote from Proverbs so accurately states, without vision, people perish.
A goal without a plan is a fantasy. It may or may not. If a person wants to retire at age 65 or 70, and isn’t putting away any money for retirement, then that goal will never be achieved, it will just remain a fantasy.
Plans need to be goal-oriented. I can have a goal to lose weight, but if I’m working toward that goal by eating entire boxes of chocolate and not exercising, these plans will not lead me to my goal.
In many of these reflections, you will have the opportunity to evaluate yourself as well as to reflect on how to improve in a specific area. So, today we will begin with evaluating ourselves in relationship to goals. In each evaluation, you’ll be asked to rank yourself on a scale of 1 (not doing very well on something) to 10 (doing extremely well on something) and then to answer some specific questions on the area being addressed. I encourage you to write out your answers to these questions, perhaps keeping a journal or special book during this unit. The reason for this is that when you actually write down a goal, it becomes more concrete.
Let’s look at this from two perspectives—our relationship with God and with our neighbor:
Having goals (from a spiritual perspective)—On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rank yourself on the following questions: Do I set goals for myself, with the idea of growing spiritually, growing closer toward Christ each year? Or am I stagnant in my practice of the faith:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
What can I do to improve in the area of setting spiritual goals? Then write down some spiritual goals (i.e. Bible reading, church going, praying, etc.).
Having goals (from a relationship perspective)—Do I seek to grow in my relationships with others? Do I set goals in my marriage? For my children? In friendships? In relationships with co-workers?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Write down some goals you have in your relationships with others, for your marriage, for your relationship with your children, with friends and with co-workers.
Lord bless my relationships today, specifically with (list people and relationships you wish to pray for). Help me to have the insight to set goals and the strength and perseverance to achieve the goals that I set. Help me to grasp a better understanding of myself so that I can better love You and those around me. Amen.
Write down some goals today!
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