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
THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village; and a woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 38-42
Good morning Prayer Team!
What is the answer we most often give or hear when the question “how are you?” is asked? More than likely, the answer is “I’m busy.” Someone recently joked with me that saying “I’m busy” is like saying “I’m alive,” because pretty much anyone who is alive is busy with something. Certainly no one ever says “Well, I’m bored, have nothing to do.” I wonder what our reaction would be if we heard that!
A book called “Simplify” by Bill Hybels describes life as a “bucket” that you want to keep “filled” and “replenished” rather than empty and depleted. He identifies five specific areas of life that help keep the bucket full, or fill it when it feels empty.
The first is connecting with God. He uses the term “chair time” (I use the term “alone with God”) to describe 5-15 minutes a day to sit in a chair and pray and read the Bible. Don’t become so busy that God gets squeezed out.
The second is enjoying time with family. Make family time a priority. Don’t become so busy that family gets squeezed out.
Third, strive to find at least one satisfying area in your job. Consider a different job that will be fulfilling even if it has fewer perks or less money. We all spend many hours at our jobs. Strive to make at least some of the time satisfying. And focus on the satisfying parts of the job, rather than the negative parts.
Fourth, make sure you have a hobby or some form of recreation. Do something just for fun and enjoyment. No one can work all the time or be “on” all the time. Find time to be off. Actually, taking time off is a commandment of God, not a mere suggestion. Remembering the Sabbath is God’s way of telling us to take time off to pray, to be with family and to relax.
Fifth, make time to exercise. A healthy body can do a lot of good towards a healthy mind, a healthy self-image, a healthy confidence.
We all are like Martha, referenced in the story above. We all run around, anxious and troubled about many things. If we focus on the needful things—God, family, a positive aspect of work, recreation and exercise—our life will become less stressed.
Yes, I have a long way to go in ALL FIVE areas. I have mastered none of these. But Bill Hybels makes the correct point in his book. If I could make even some small strides in each of these areas, my life would become more simplified and more fulfilling at the same time. It is neglect of these areas, even one of them, that complicates life.
Lord, help me to balance the many responsibilities I have in my life. Help me to focus on what is needful. Help me to grow my relationship with You. Help me to grow my relationship with my family. Inspire my work so that in it I may not only glorify You but find some personal fulfillment. Help me remember to take time for myself in the middle of all my responsibilities. And help me to have the discipline to take care of my body through exercise. I can’t do everything. Help me to do the best I can with what I have, to keep my life in balance, and to simplify life so that I always remember to take care of the needful things, most especially my faith. Amen.
Set a small goal to grow in each of these areas of your life.
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