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
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
One of the most humble statements in the Bible was uttered by St. John the Baptist, in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” In other words, St. John was saying “It’s not about me, it’s all about Him (Christ).” Let’s look at the role of John the Baptist critically. He was not the Christ, but the one who announced that Christ was coming. His role was to introduce/endorse Jesus as the Christ, and then get out of the way. John had a group of disciples, followers, groupies, whatever you want to call them. He had a certain level of popularity and respect. But he knew that he was not the Christ. In human terms, he knew he wasn’t the star of the team, or the head of the company. His job was to endorse someone else as the central figure. His job was to eventually tell all of his disciples to leave him and to go with Christ.
How many times have you felt like John the Baptist—you lay the groundwork, someone else gets the glory. In these situations, “They must increase, while I decrease” is probably not the phrase we are readily saying. It’s more like, “I did the work, why does someone else get the credit?” And this is because we many times make it about the credit, we make it about us, more than we make it about other people. Many times we make it about us and not about Him (the Lord).
Imagine if we all took the attitude of John the Baptist when it comes to credit—if we all put others ahead of ourselves and we did it all the time. To truly love means to do this—to love someone means that they increase while we decrease. Because love is taking sentiment from ourselves and giving it to someone else. John the Baptist truly loved God. He was willing to play his role in God’s divine plan with humility, love and even joy.
John said “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of min is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3: 28-30) Who rejoices in being the friend of the bridegroom? Most people would prefer to be the bridegroom, not the friend of one. Yet, this was John’s calling and he embraced it.
Many times in life, we wish to be the “bridegroom”—the star of the company, the star of the sports team, the owner of the flashy car, the parent of the accomplished athlete rather than the kids who struggles. And sometimes it is hard to share the joy of the person who has what you wish you had. In fact, many times we want to tear others down so they can be like us, rather than building them up and being happy for them.
The thankful heart is not only thankful for what it has, but it is thankful for what others have. A thankful heart rejoices in the successes of others. A thankful heart says “I’m really happy for you” rather than thinking, “Why is that success yours and not mine?”
We each play a role in God’s divine plan. Some of those roles may be more public and be perceived as more “glamorous.” Other roles may be more private or be perceived as more “mundane.” In some ways, it must have been hard to be John the Baptist—to build up the people, only to step aside for Christ. Yet, without John preparing the way, Christ would have come to a people totally unprepared. John’s role was crucial. Just like the Virgin Mary’s role was crucial. And JUST LIKE YOUR ROLE is crucial. Are you ready to embrace your role, whatever that role is, if that’s the role that He has called you to? Are you willing to decrease in order so that He can increase in your life and in our world?
Lord, thank You for the unique gifts You have given me. (List them). Help me to always know that I am special to You. Help me to understand and embrace whatever my role is in Your plan for the salvation of the world. Help me rejoice in my successes but also to rejoice in the successes of others. Help me to serve with humility, to encourage others, and to make it all about You, rather than about me. Amen.
Tell someone who has accomplished something that you haven’t, “I’m really happy for you.”