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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros 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
Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14
Good morning Prayer Team!
There are many things in life that we have no choice in. We can’t choose our parents. We can’t choose our home state. We can’t choose our school district. And on and on. However, each of us has a choice when it comes to being an encourager. We can choose to encourage. We can choose to discourage. These choices are always ours.
The choice to see the glass half-empty or half-filled is also that, a choice. So is the choice to see the good in people and in situations, rather than to see the bad. In I Corinthians 13:6, Saint Paul writes that “(Love) does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.” If God is love, and God has taught us that we are to love one another, then we are to see the glass half-full when it comes to people. We are to see their best, not their worst. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we shouldn’t point out when someone has done something wrong and seek to correct it. It does, however, mean coming at life, and at people, in a generally positive way. Many people see the negative in things and in people. They gravitate to thoughts of doom and gloom. Others seem to overflow with joy. Some will see an opportunity and worry that they are going to fail. Others see the same opportunity and think how they will succeed.
When a professional baseball player goes to bat each time, do you think that he thinks he is going to fail? Of course he doesn’t. He sees the possibility for success each time out. And we know, even the best baseball players fail at bat at least 60-70% of the time. If a batter has struck out three times and comes to bat a fourth time with a chance to win the game, he doesn’t think “I have been a failure to this point today.” He thinks “I have a chance to be a hero and win the game.” If he approaches the plate with a negative mindset, most likely he is going to get a negative result. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if he approaches with a positive mindset, there is a much greater chance for a positive outcome.
This image of the baseball player brings to mind two other thoughts—first, going back to our discussion on “being present.” When a baseball player goes to the plate with chance to win the game in the last inning, he can’t think about his past failures of the day. He has to be in the moment, and see the positive possibilities in that moment. Otherwise, he is very likely to fail. Second, he has to go to the plate with a positive mindset. He has to think he can be successful. If he plays “not to lose,” then for sure he is going to lose. If he “plays to win,” he will be successful much of the time. A negative mindset brings a negative result. A positive mindset is more likely to bring a positive result.
When I was much younger, I played soccer and my position was goalkeeper. One day my coach said to me “If you let in a goal today, I’m not going to let you play tomorrow.” Fortunately, I didn’t let in a goal that day. But talk about pressure! I didn’t play very well under that kind of pressure. I found it very discouraging. I remember after the game the coach came up and said “good game” to me and all I could think of was “you jerk, I didn’t enjoy this game at all.” Some people are motivated by fear. Most are not. I would have played much better, and certainly enjoyed the game much more, if he had said “I believe in you. You are a good player. And I’m sticking with you tomorrow even if today isn’t great.” Yes, encouragement does a lot more good than discouragement.
Don’t be discouraged. Don’t discourage others. Approach things with a positive view and you are more likely to have positive results. Encourage others and they are more likely to have positive results as well.
Lord, thank You for the gift of today. Help me to see the good in the people I encounter today. Help me approach my challenges in a positive way. Help me to feel confident. Help me to instill confidence in others. When I fail, help me to not be weighed down by negative thoughts. Help me always to bounce back quickly with optimism. Help me to be a positive person and to be a person who sees and encourages the good in others. Amen.
Take a moment and see the good in the people and opportunities you encounter today!
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