-Paige Trivett, Blue Sky Fund
At Blue Sky Fund, my fellow instructors and I teach all of our kids the Five Finger Agreement. We show them that the five fingers on our hand each stand for a different word we expect them to embody in our program: encouragement, accountability, respect, commitment and safety. Incorporating our hands is an effective reminder for both the kids and instructors. Recently, I have found myself applying this concept not only at work but also in my spiritual life. It is my hope that my fellow Christians around the world share this practice with me in some capacity or another. I truly believe that these five simple words can help us share love and the Gospel in the ways God intends.
My thumb stands for encouragement. It reminds me that there is no such thing as the ‘perfect Christian’ and that we will all stumble at some point. It also reiterates the importance of supporting one another and inspiring each other to continue onward in our faiths. Encouragement can come in many forms, from participating in a community empowerment project to simply sending a note to a fellow congregation member. It is important to me to spread positivity through encouragement as I have seen this lead to stronger connections with God and each other.
I use my second finger to symbolize accountability. Just as I make my kids point at themselves, I point at myself and ask, “Am I following the rules?” In other words, I strive to ensure my thoughts and actions align with the values I’ve established for myself. Instead of comparing myself to other Christians, I make my own decisions when interpreting scripture and modeling Christ’s teachings. It is up to God and myself to decide how I am progressing through my faith. I believe that having complete trust in His wisdom is at the heart of spiritual self-responsibility.
Respect, which is represented by my third finger, should be the easiest for us to accomplish simply because of what it means to be a Christian. However, it is often the most difficult to execute. Each Sunday we confess “we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves,” for whatever reason that may be. I often find myself feeling guilty during that utterance, but I am rejuvenated after forgiveness. For me, respect does not mean forcing conformity. Instead, it means accepting my brothers and sisters of the human race even though we have differing worldviews. One of the major lessons I have learned from the teachings of Christ is that diversity is a beautiful thing to celebrate.
Not surprisingly, my ring finger stands for commitment. Just as there is a commitment made in marriage, there are many commitments made in the Church. The biggest for me is the pledge I have made to serve others the best I can. I am so excited to use the resources at St. Andrew’s to help honor this pledge. I have also made a commitment to improve my biblical literacy in order to better understand what I receive from scripture. No matter where any of us are in our spiritual journeys, we all make a commitment to continue to grow in knowledge about our neighbors, our faith, and ourselves.
My last and most important finger is a symbol for safety. It is up to all of us in the Church to create a safe, welcoming environment for worship. In my experience, one of the most uncomfortable interactions I had when joining a church was when the congregation passed judgment before understanding my history. A wall was immediately built that became difficult to tear down. The different liturgies of the Christian faith can sometimes be dangerous as well. Although the pageantry of a service can be quite beautiful, I sometimes have to step back and take a more simplistic approach to prayer. At the risk of sounding cliché, sometimes less is more.
There are many other characteristics that go into being a healthy and compassionate Christian, but these five build a foundation that is easy for me to remember and reflect upon. My hope is that when I am reviewing the Five Finger Agreement from now on with my kids at Blue Sky, I will also be simultaneously reflecting on the agreement I have made with my spiritual self. I am slowly engraining the five principles in all aspects of my life so I can become an influential role model and Christian.