“O Lord and Master of my life, grant me not the spirit of idleness (ἀργίας, праздности), despondency, lust of power, and idle talk (ἀργο-λογίας, праздно-словия).“ (Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem, part 1)
Here the “spirit of idleness” or “ἀργία” (from “ἀ-εργία,” literally “not working” or “not doing”) means the bad kinds of “not doing.” There are also good kinds of “not doing” (праздность) at certain, appropriate times (праздники), because we all need an occasional break in order to be restored. But here idleness means “not doing” what I am supposed to be doing, and when I am supposed to be doing it, according to my “vocation” or calling from God, specifically out of an avoidance and/or neglect of “responsibility” (i.e., my “response-ability” or my “ability to respond” to God’s call). One such type of idleness is procrastination, e.g., when I have a pile of papers to grade, but opt to clean my desk instead.
What causes me to befriend the “spirit of idleness,” including procrastination? Several things: 1. self-reliance, when I’m attempting to carry my responsibilities on my own shoulders, without God; 2. The resulting fear (of both failure and success) regarding the task at hand, which is too much for me alone; and 3. A loss of vision/sense of my “vocation,” due to all-of-the-above.
So this morning let me replace fear with faith, and self-reliance with God-reliance, so I don’t get stuck in self-centered, fear-inspired circles. Let me re-focus and listen for God’s call to me, that I may respond in humble usefulness to myself and others. “Thy will be done” with me today, O Lord, according to Your purpose, whether I like it right now or not. Amen!