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”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection, and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Encouragement seeks to eliminate negative talk, not only our negative talk about others but negative talk to and about our own selves.
First, let’s talk about eliminating negative talk to and about others. If a person hears over and over again, “you are a loser,” that person will eventually start feeling like they are a loser. If ninety-nine people tell someone they are a loser and one person tells them they are a winner, the positive voice will not be heard through the sea of negative voices. On the other hand, if a person hears from ninety-nine people that they are a winner and one person tells them they are a loser, the voice of negativity will most likely be lost in the sea of positive voices.
It is important when we have to be critical or even negative, that what we offer is constructive and objective, that correction is given in a positive manner. One phrase that none of us hears often enough is “I believe in you.” It seems that we more often hear some version of “I’m disappointed in you.” Just as with the example above, when a person hears consistently, “I’m disappointed in you,” they may begin to believe that they are an overall disappointment. Just as when a person hears “I believe in you” consistently, they will believe that people have confidence in them and they will have confidence in themselves. On the occasion when we must correct someone and even voice disappointment, it is important to make sure there is still some confidence mixed even amidst the disappointment. The best way to do this is simply to combine the two phrases: “I may be disappointed in you, but I still believe in you.”
Many of us played sports at some point in our lives. And many of us have experienced coaches of varying temperaments. Many of us are familiar with the coach who says “If you don’t play well today, you’ll be on the bench tomorrow.” And hopefully some of us are familiar with the coach who says “win or lose today, you’re still starting tomorrow.” Which kind of coach do you prefer? I’m sure the answers vary. Some people do very well under intense pressure. Others wilt. I have always played better for the second kind of coach, the kind of coach that expresses confidence and optimism in me, who says “If it doesn’t go well today, there is still a tomorrow for you.” Whether it’s coming from a coach, a boss, a friend or a parishioner, when someone expresses confidence in me, I tend to be more confident. When someone expresses a lack of confidence in me, or makes a threat that if some level of performance is not achieved, I will receive something negative, I tend to be less confident. For me, anyway, positive reinforcement works much better than negative reinforcement. I’d rather work for reward than to avoid punishment, and I would venture to say that many of us prefer it this way as well.
Now, let’s discuss negative self-talk. Again, using a sports analogy, let’s say that I’m throwing a ball back and forth with someone from a distance of 50 feet. And let’s say that while throwing the ball, I start thinking negatively: What if I throw the ball too hard, it will go over the other person’s head. What if I throw the ball too soft and it doesn’t get to them? What if I throw the ball badly several times in a row? Will they still want to play catch with me? Inevitably, the negative self-talk will result in a negative outcome. If I’m too worried about throwing the ball over someone’s head, my worry will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, that’s exactly what will happen, it will go over their head. If instead of negative self-talk, I engage in positive self-talk, there will still be times when I get a negative outcome, but more times than not, the outcome will be positive.
One phrase I’ve adopted in my life is “If you play to win, sometimes you’ll win and sometime you’ll lose, but if you play not to lose, you just about always lose.”
This positive self-talk helps whether we are talking about tossing the ball around, or giving a presentation, or writing or just about anything else we do. Going into something with a positive outlook makes it much more likely you’ll get a positive result. Giving a positive outlook to someone else through encouragement makes them much more likely to have positive results in what they are doing.
Lord, thank You for my gifts and talents. Help me to use them for Your glory and in service to my neighbor. Help me to see the good in those around me and to encourage others. Help others to see the good in me and encourage me. And help me to see the good in me, to have confidence in the abilities that You have given me. Help me to use them as best as I can. Give me confidence today in myself, and give me the opportunity to inspire confidence in someone else today as well. Amen.
In addition to encouragement from others, we need encouragement from own selves. Play to win today and encourage others to play to win as well! Believe in yourself. Believe in others. Most important, believe in God!
These readings are under copyright and are 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.
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