It’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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