Wishing you a happy new year and a blessed feast of Nativity! The start of a New Year is usually associated with “New Year Resolutions”. I personally don’t really believe in New Year Resolutions because more often than not I see them go unfulfilled. Instead we should build on a solid foundation and continue to add to it once we show consistency. However, if New Year Resolutions work for you and this is how you advance in your life then by all means go for it.
Another concept that is closely tied to New Years is self-examination. For this reason I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you to self-examine yourself if you’re growing in your service as a deacon or not. This brings us to the fifth and last Deacon Core Value: Competence (Knowledge).
It is my dream that all deacons would be capable of performing all tasks, even though each deacon might excel in specific ones. My dream would be for Abouna to be able to call on any deacon and assign him a needed task and that deacon would be able to perform it with competence. This task could be anything big or small such as: praying Matins/Vespers responses, opening Lectionary books to the correct date, leading the congregation in chanting a certain hymn, preparing orban, etc… You should always be advancing in your knowledge. We are offering classes for Psaltos, Oghnostos, and advanced deacons, however we can never force anyone to learn. That takes dedication, practice and self-motivation on your part. We can always push you to attend the classes to learn, but at some point during your growth as a deacon you’ll need to take charge of your own advancement.
In order for you to grow in your knowledge, you should set for yourself SMART goals: SMART = Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.
An example of a goal that is not SMART would be “To learn all Deacon Tasks.” You can see how this goal is not specific or measureable. This goal also doesn’t have any timelines associated with it. A SMART goal however could be: “To learn Nativity hymns within the next 2 months.” This is a SMART goal because it’s:
- Specific: You’re not learning everything, but a specific seasonal hymns
- Measureable: You can measure your progress
- Attainable: With dedication and practice you can achieve this goal
- Realistic: You’re not overloading yourself with something you cannot handle
- Timely: You set a timeline of 2 months for yourself.
As your competence and knowledge grows, so will your rank grow with it, which is in essence the purpose of these Deacon ranks. The purpose of the Patrashil (stole) and the different ways of wearing them is that if a bishop of a visiting priest looks at you, he would be able to recognize your rank from the way you wear the Patrashil and know what tasks and duties you would be capable of handling. This is why it is important for the deacons to be tested before they are promoted through the various ranks.
Lastly, it is also important to note that as your level of knowledge grows, you should guard yourself with humility which is the first Deacon Core Value and beware of pride since “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6).
In order to guard yourself from pride with humility know that just because you’re capable of carrying out a certain task it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be asked to perform it. Instead you should always be ready to perform the task, but only carry it out when asked to or when no one else is able to do it. You should also remember that the word “Deacon” means “Servant” which sums up our tasks. We should care that the service is done correctly and not care about who does the service.
Please join me in praying for the growth of the deacons both individually and as a group.
Have a blessed Nativity Feast.