A New Home for my Blogging

TLI_logo_colorIt’s a new week and I wanted to touch bases with you here on my personal blog. As I mentioned a while back, I am moving most of my blogging over to The Leadership Institute blog (which launched on February 4). Some of you have been subscribed to this blog via email.

There was some confusion last time about subscribing to the new blog and its posts. You have to sign-up from the blog page itself. The form on that page adds you to the blog email list. The forms on any other page (including the home page) add you to our “News and Announcements” list, but not the blog list. If you signed up, but haven’t received our Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday posts via email, click on the TLI Blog link here and subscribe via the form on that page.

And so this isn’t just an “info” post, let me share something I came across in my daily readings from the Philokalia a couple of days ago. St. Neilors the Ascetic was talking about the wrong kind of spiritual director:

“Spiritual directors of this kind like to appear in public supported by a large crowd of attendants, and to have all the outward pomp of an abbot, as if playing a part on the stage. So as not to lose the services of their disciples, they are forced to keep on gratifying their whims.” (St. Neilos the Ascetic, “Ascetic Discourse.” St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth. The Philokalia Volume 1. Eds. G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware. Boston: Faber & Faber, 1979, p. 222-23.)

I have been this kind of spiritual director in the past when I served in church staff roles. I’ve realized that what it takes to get a large crowd interested and coming back is not always gospel- or Jesus-focused. Is it amazing music or compelling communication that draws them in? These activities may or may not be focused on discipleship as much as on self-improvement or self-fulfillment. I may not always like discipleship, but I find that discipleship is always good.

This isn’t just a case of taking yucky medicine because it’s good for me. Discipleship will press me into uncomfortable places in the moment that will lead to a truer, more fruitful life in the next season. If I live for present pleasure (even spiritual pleasure), I may never find my way to those more deeply rooted places that bear even better, more lasting fruit.


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4 thoughts on “A New Home for my Blogging

  1. hmmm . . “do it my way”, “no! do it my way”. Isn’t it possible there’s more than one way? More probably a combination both ways? There’s a visible guy out there that seems to be saying very similar things to what I hear from the Willard crowd. He to is saying “go into the secret place, go back out and risk. If that doesn’t work, go back to the secret place”. I do think personal transformation is a slow arduous process, not a lightning bolt fix. But ignoring the possibility of lightning bolt fixes seems sort of dumb.

  2. Thanks for your input. I’m certainly not trying to claim exclusivity here. I just find that it can be a bit challenging to plan your life or ministry based on, as you say, lightening bolt fixes. Lightening is a bit unpredictable.

  3. Greetings Alan,

    I have been reading your blog for some time now and was pleased to find another evangelical brother with an appreciation of the Philokalia…we are few and far between.

    St Neilos also provides wise guidance for those who find themselves “obliged” to “accept one or two disciples;” heavy stuff if we receive it honestly.

    “But what if someone, not from any choice of his own, is obliged to accept one or two disciples, and so to become the spiritual director of others as well? First, let him examine himself carefully, to see whether he can teach them through his actions rather than his words, setting his own life before them as a model of holiness. He must take care that, through copying him, they do not obscure the beauty of holiness with the ugliness of sin. He should also realize that he ought to work as hard for his disciples’ salvation as he does for his own; for, having once accepted responsibility for them, he will be accountable to God for them as well as for himself.”

    May you be blessed as you seek to reflect the “beauty of [H]oliness” for the blessing of others.

    • Jim – thank you for your feedback. I remember reading that excerpt from St. Neilos as well. Very helpful. My journey through the first volume of the Philokalia has been very encouraging and has helped me in my journey with Jesus. May you sense His great and unhurried blessing in your life as well.

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