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.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. II Thessalonians 2:16-17

One of the hardest things to figure out in life is the proper balance between work and family. In the ideal life there would be a perfect balance of work, family, leisure, prayer, and rest. The truth of the matter is that I’ve never met anyone who has found the perfect balance. It is a struggle for EVERYONE. So, let me offer some encouragement for seeking a sense of balance.

The next two reflections will be about work/family balance. The last reflection referenced the story of Mary and Martha and when Jesus visited them in their home. Mary listened to the Lord’s teaching. Martha was running around trying to get dinner on the table. Martha complained to Jesus why her sister Mary was not helping. Jesus said to Martha “you are anxious and troubled about many things; Mary has chosen the good portion which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

As we discussed, many people interpret this passage as Jesus demeaning work, that we should all sit around and pray all day. Others criticize this passage and dismiss the words of Jesus, after all, who can afford to sit all day and not work? Neither is correct. Jesus was pointing out the need for balance. He was saying that the most needful thing in our life is to work on our salvation. And if we are running around, anxious and troubled, we are going to neglect this most important thing. He didn’t dispute that working hard at a job isn’t a necessary part of life, only that we should be anxious and troubled about work.

I heard a sermon once on this story which I will ever forget because the story of Mary and Martha was examined in a totally different way. We know that Jesus was friends with Mary and Martha. He went to their home to relax. Perhaps Martha was running around, feeling pressure to put out the nicest food on the finest dinnerware, when Jesus would have been happy ordering out for pizza (obviously they did not have pizza back then, but you get the point). Jesus perhaps was saying “I came over here to relax, don’t stress. The needful thing is your company, not the food.”

It is okay to order out for pizza occasionally, or eat off paper plates. It’s okay to sit around the table and talk after dinner and not to the dishes right away. I would never suggest not cleaning the house, but it is okay to have a house that looks like it is lived in, not one that looks like an immaculate cathedral. I’m reminded of a country song by Toby Keith:

Wouldn’t change the course of fate,
If cutting the grass just had to wait,
Cause I got more important things,
Like pushing my kid on a backyard swing.
I won’t break my back for a million bucks I can’t take to my grave,
So why put off for tomorrow what I could get done today?
Like go for a walk, say a little prayer, take a deep breath of mountain air,
Put on my glove and play some catch, it’s time that I make time for that,
Wade the shore, cast a line, look up an old lost friend of mine,
Sit on the porch and give my girl a kiss,
Start living that’s the next thing on my list.

Work is important and necessary. It is necessary because a vocation is what puts food on the table and roof over our heads. It is important because work is how we use our talents to help others and to fulfill God’s plan for us. However, God does not intend for us to work all the time. He intends for us to relax and recharge. He has blessed us with families for us to enjoy.

So, work hard, for sure. But make sure that you keep some sense of balance in your life. We can’t have the perfect job, perfect family, perfect house, perfect food, etc. So, don’t put stress where it isn’t needed and don’t pressure yourself to be the perfect worker, parent, housekeeper and cook. Do your best. And when it comes to housekeeping and cooking, ordering out for pizza or eating off paper plates is not the worst thing you can do. In fact, some days it’s the needful thing.

Tune in to the next reflection for a way to get more out of your workday.

Lord, thank You for the many wonderful things that fill my life (list them—family, job, home, hobbies, etc). Help me to find the right balance between all of these responsibilities and joys. Help me to always see You as the most needful thing in my life and to center the rest of my life around You. Help me to find the proper balance between work, family, leisure, spirituality and rest. Give me patience with family and friends who are also engaged in this struggle. Give patience to them as they support me in my struggle to find balance. Amen.

In the next week, make a night where you order out, or eat off paper plates, and in the time you save, do something fun with your family.

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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    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


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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

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

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