Opinion: What makes us worthy

By Valerie Smith | March 8, 2017 11:29am

Smith and her sister at an ROTC Commissioning Ceremony. Photo courtesy of Valerie Smith. 

When my sister graduated from law school and received her orders to begin practicing law in the U.S. Air Force, I wanted to give her a parting gift that would remind her of home and also be strong and small enough to travel with her.

I decided that I would make my sister a pencil holder that she could place on her new office desk. My dad and I rummaged through the scrap pieces of wood in our attic that had been used in previous homebuilding projects and began thinking of how to design the piece.

We created a simple box structure and added a small piece of wood that would become a business card holder in front of the box. Combining all of these elements relied on finding a sturdy, carefully edged piece of wood to serve as the foundation to the structure. Before gluing the joints and pieces onto the wooden foundation, my dad taught me how to use a router so that I could engrave a word on the bottom side of the wood.

The word I inscribed would never be seen by clients who would casually reach for a pen to write a quick note or sign a legal form, but I knew that the word would stick with my sister and become part of the foundation of her new career.

The word inscribed was Axios, a Greek word meaning to be worthy, having value or equal weight on a scale (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Trans). This word is commonly exclaimed in the Orthodox Church when a priest or clergy member is being ordained and the congregation and ordaining bishop loudly declare that the individual is worthy.

My sister may not have been entering a formally ordained religious position, but she was beginning a lifelong journey that would require her to use the legal 'scales of truth' to help defend and advocate against injustice on behalf of other people. She would be required to build upon the education and values which served as the foundation of her career and deemed her 'worthy' of her new role.

Whether we are graduating soon, taking on a new job or promotion or simply transitioning into new stages in our lives, we are generally determined to be worthy through the means of receiving our new degree or title. Our 'worthiness,' however, is not determined by title or prestige. It is determined by our ability to remember the values that have shaped us along the way, crafting us into the people we are.

Our faith provides the framework for our directions in life, while the relationships created along the way strengthen our ability to perform each of our own vocations in both the spiritual and professional sense.

No matter where our individual paths may lead us, we are meant to continue forward as worthy members of a royal priesthood. We are entrusted by our faith to use whatever role or title we hold to defend the vulnerable and advocate for social justice.

Transitioning into new stages or responsibilities in life will test our ability to maintain our 'worthiness' and require us to continually reflect upon the basis our own faith and values. Successfully measuring up to our duties, however, relies upon remembering the foundations that define us.

By doing so, we can proclaim…


Valerie "Vasiliki" Smith is a senior nursing major and can be reached at smithv17@up.edu.

Reference for Translation:

Thayer's Greek Lexicon. Axios. Retrieved from https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g514.