To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His call, and may fulfill every good resolve and work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.
II Thessalonians 1: 11-12
There are many people who don’t feel comfortable asking for help. Perhaps they were taught that to ask for help is a sign of weakness. Perhaps they feel that their ego will take a blow if they ask for help. And perhaps some even feel unworthy of help, they feel inadequate with themselves, like they are burden to others.
At the ordination of a priest in the Orthodox Church, the congregation shouts and sings the word “Axios!” which means “worthy!” to the new priest. They do this many times. They do this as the new priest is vested with each piece of his vestments. I felt God’s call to the priesthood many years before I was ordained. I studied at the seminary for four years. I was ordained, first as a deacon, then as a priest, and I heard the cries of “Axios!” from many people.
I’ve had the opportunity to watch several priests offer their first service. Even though the new priest will usually celebrate his first service alone, there is always an older priest in the building to help out and encourage.  For my first service as a priest, there were no other priests in the building, I was by myself. And I remember feeling like I was stealing from a candy store. I knew what I was doing, that wasn’t the problem. I just wished there had been someone there telling me “it’s ok, you are worthy to be here doing this stuff.”
For those who don’t think they are worthy of help and encouragement, you are. We are all worthy of this. We all need this, and we are all worthy of this.
Christ summarized all the commandments into two commandments—to love God, and to love our neighbor. Imagine if every neighbor refused help and encouragement from his or her neighbor. This commandment to love our neighbor could not be kept. In accepting encouragement, we actually help others by allowing them to love us. One might argue that an egotistical person is always looking for help, and in some sense that might be true, if a person is always “using others.” On the other side though, it is a proud person that will not ask for and accept help and encouragement from others.
It is interesting in Matthew 10:8, Jesus tells His disciples, “You received without paying, give without paying.” In other words, you received blessings without paying for them, or possibly even deserving them. We should therefore bless others and help others without expecting anything in return. He not only mentions giving without pay. He mentions receiving without pay, and receiving first.
Ideally, among people, there is an “equal” exchange of help and encouragement. Except we know that there is no such thing as equality. If we keep score about encouragement in our relationships, it will likely lead us closer to insanity than equality. Rather we should freely encourage one another and be quick to help one another. And we should be grateful when others encourage and help us.
If you feel like you don’t deserve any encouragement, you are wrong. Because we all need it, and we are all worthy of it. Part of the challenge in the area of encouragement is not only to be able to offer it, but to receive it as well. We all need to become good encouragers and good helpers, as well as to become good receivers of encouragement and help.
There are many people who are hesitant to accept encouragement and help because they think they are a bother. And again this goes back to creating the safe environment where people not only are safe to be honest, but safe in the knowledge that they are valued, so that they can accept encouragement that is offered, at the same time that they are encouraging others.
Lord, thank You for gestures of encouragement that I receive. Help me to not only be a good encourager of others but to be a good receiver of encouragement and help. Help me to put aside my own pride, that I can do everything on my own, so that I can accept love and encouragement from others. Bring people into my path who will encourage me, and give me the humility to accept encouragement. Amen.
You are worthy to be encouraged by others!


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 multiple books, you can view here:


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