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, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know the way to it, and it is not found deep in the land of the living. The deep says “It is not in me,” and the sea says, “It is not with me.” It cannot be gotten for gold, and silver cannot be weighed as its price. It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in the precious onyx or sapphire. Gold and glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewels or fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal; the price of wisdom is above pearls. The topaz of Ethiopia cannot compare with it, nor can it be valued in pure gold. Job 28: 12-19
Just about everything in life that is worthwhile comes at a cost. We have to spend time and money to get some benefit. Sometimes that time is significant, like years of education to land a good job. Or a sizeable mortgage to have a nice home. There are obvious benefits to having a good job and a good home. There are costs to having a job but definite benefits in the form of compensation, which allows us to go on trips, acquire material goods and many other things.
There is even a high cost to being a Christian. Because to be a good Christian, one must “deny himself and take up his cross and follow.” (Mark 8:34) Of course, there is an eternal benefit for one who is a follower of Christ, which is eternal life. And there are plenty of benefits in everyday life as well.
Encouragement is one of the few things in life that comes with a low cost and high benefit. As we will discuss, it doesn’t cost much time to encourage someone. It doesn’t cost any money. A smile or a compliment or an encouraging word takes mere seconds.
There is benefit to both encourager and the one who is receiving encouragement. To the one receiving encouragement, their confidence receives a boost, which in turn makes them more joyful and hopeful. The one giving the encouragement also benefits, to see someone else feel good and know that you are the cause of their good feelings. I must say, I love seeing people who feel good, especially the ones where I play a direct role in encouraging. There is virtually no cost and just high benefit that comes from encouraging someone.
Let’s talk about the cost of feeling discouraged. Because discouragement comes with little to no benefit and high cost. A “benefit” from being discouraged might be more motivation. However, most people just get down when they are discouraged. They feel anything but motivated and empowered. Discouragement leads to doubt and doubt stifles confidence, causes depression, fuels frustration and reduces efficiency. I know that when I feel discouraged, it is harder to get out of bed, stay focused on tasks and feel confident in what I’m doing. Encouragement puts a “spring in my step,” motivates me to jump out of bed rather than slink out of it, gets me to work in a good mood instead of a bad one, helps me be more patient and overall makes the day more productive and efficient.
The bottom line is, it costs very little to encourage. It brings a benefit to both the one being encouraged and the one who encourages them. And there is a high cost when one does not receive encouragement, i.e. when one feels discouraged. Can we afford NOT to build environments of encouragement? Can we afford to have people more frustrated, less focused, more inefficient and less confident than they already are? N.O.
It takes money to overcome financial deficits. It takes time to overcome deficits of knowledge. But it requires only desire to overcome the encouragement deficits in our world. I can’t fix my own deficit of encouragement, but others most certainly can. Encouragement is really a work of the heart, not of the mind. That’s why this study is called “The Heart of Encouragement.” Because it is not intelligence, fame or fortune that makes one a good encourager. Those with the biggest hearts become the biggest encouragers. If there is anything tangible we can all work on it is our own hearts. Focus on a soft heart and you are a few steps closer to being a good encourager.
Today’s Scripture quote from the book of Job talks about the value of wisdom, how you can’t put a price on it. Encouragement is the same thing. What good is all the fortune and material possessions in the world when one feels discouraged?
Encouragement is one of the few things in life that has low cost and high benefit. It’s also a vital need, something we can’t put a price on. Since there is such a large need for encouragement, and it is so easy for us to encourage others, there really isn’t much excuse for why there isn’t more encouragement going on in our world today. We’ve all got a role to play in being encouragers. Let’s get to work.
Lord, help me to honor You this day by bringing something that is so desperately needed, encouragement, to as many people as possible. Give me the eyes to see those who need the most encouragement. Give me the words to encourage them. And give me the heart that rejoices in encouraging others and grows in the desire to do so. Amen.
Because there is no cost and high benefit to sending a message of encouragement, send at least three today!
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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