The Cure for Being Ineffective

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I admit it, I can be a workaholic. One of my greatest, personal, fears is being “ineffective” so I work really hard to “produce;” to “get results;” to achieve. Now, that isn’t necessarily bad as long as our definitions are correct!

Ah, and there’s the rub! What do I mean when i say “effective” or “successful” or “productive?” Forgetting to do that hard work means there is a high likelihood of truly missing the point. In fact, most of the problems of my own life can be traced to a misidentification, not of my intentions (that’s for another day) but of my goals!

Look at our Lesson today from St. Peter in 1 Peter 1:1-10:

SIMON PETER, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promise, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature. For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall.

You see, St. Peter here gives us some of the loftiest words of all the scriptures. Pretty amazing when we remember the Peter of the Gospels as a fisherman and not a very patient man at that! It’s amazing to see the power of the Day of Pentecost on this great saint of the Faith! St. Peter tells us that we are intended to become “partakers of the divine nature.”

And this invitation to enter into deep and life-changing communion with God Himself reorients our very understanding of what it means to be “effective” or “successful.” It means we are invited to “escape corruption.” And it means that being effective means putting into practice this freedom from corruption in our everyday lives. St. Peter uses the word “supplement” and I love that! Add these to your proclaimed faith: Virtue, Knowledge, Self-control, Steadfastness, Godliness, Brotherly Affection, and Love.

All the above is already yours in partaking of the divine nature through the Mystery of the Eucharist, so make sure these are activated in your life and when you do, they will “keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful.” It is the very reality of being in intimate communion with God, of partaking of His divine nature, that liberates your life from ineffectiveness. And being effective means being actively growing in your relationship with God in and through His Church!

No wonder St. Peter, after offering us this lofty laundry list of effective living encourages us to be more zealous to confirm our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is in this zealousness that will protect us from falling away from this precious faith. Every time I think of this I think of that moment in the Divine Liturgy when I add hot water to the chalice of wine at the altar with these words “The zeal of Faith, Full of the Holy Spirit.” As I pour the hot water into the chalice the visible steam rises and the wine is made “warm” by the zeal of the faithful! Such a powerful image of the necessary effectiveness of all the people of the parish to be active, engaged, and participating in this partaking of the divine nature!

Today, are you effective in your faith? Are you aware of God’s invitation to you to “partake” of the divine nature and to become a person who radiates the warmth of the Spirit in your life? Perhaps it’s time to redefine effectiveness to be being effective first in faith so that all other desires and work in our lives can be shaped by that reality. You’re guaranteed to be Orthodox on Purpose if you do!

P.S. Another week of devotions is finished and now we look to the weekend. Saturday night Great Vesprs and Sunday Divine Liturgy invite us to be effective in partaking of God’s life. I pray you have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you in Church!

2 comments:

  1. Father,

    Each morning I begin my day with prayer and listening to your Faith Encouraged Live devotion. You are truly a great instrument of the Holy Spirit. May God continue to bless your ministry.

    I want to let you know HOW I listen. First I just listen to it. Then I pull up your blog and read it while I listen to it a second time. This gives me the opportunity to get two senses working and enhances the focus. Of course this is an application of the ancient tradition of reading scripture out loud. What’s impressive to me is that both your audio and blog are always up by 4:00 AM.

    Keep doing what your doing my brother.

    Fr. Dn. Bob Dennis

    PS: This week you have been encountering a few instances of “popping the P’s.” That is, of course, the thump that occurs when the blast of air (from pronouncing the P) hits the microphone diaphragm the wrong way. You’ve changed something about the way you are using your microphone. If you need help in understanding how to avoid this, I stand ready to advise you, but Google is there for you too. We’ll keep listening regardless, but I know your bent of getting things completely professional.

  2. Right on! Further to learning about how to focus in on our goals, the passage from 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 is a great reminder on where we are and where we want to be:

    For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

    PS
    Small error – the daily devotional is from St Peter’s 2nd letter, not the first.

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