Tag Archives: Authority

God Wins

Amma Theodora said that a teacher ought to be a stranger to the desire for domination, vain-glory, and pride; one should not be able to fool him by flattery, nor blind him by gifts, nor conquer him by the stomach, nor dominate him by anger; but he should be patient, gentle and humble as far as possible; he must be tested and without partisanship, full of concern, and a lover of souls.

— sayings of the desert

This little snippet of desert wisdom gives us a model for the spiritual teacher. All of us live in a high pressure, performance driven culture. If we are not pressured we have a tendency to lack in passion for our work. On the other hand, our culture is a “me” culture that expects high praise for our efforts. Both student and teacher have certain expectations when they meet. The call of the teacher is to be single minded and focused on the task and not on the gratification or domination that can come from the task. The call is to be humble and allow God to win

Doorways Thin PlacesMore than once I have heard a less than happy church member say, “This church is not meeting my spiritual needs.” The very essence of that statement is that the church is about me. The teacher sometimes struggles with the needs of those who have been entrusted to them, but it is clear that the primary role of the spiritual teacher is to be a lover of souls. The point at which student or teacher loses that concept and turns to self-gratification, the mission is lost.

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Filed under Desert Ammas, Teacher

The Beginning of Good

It happened that when Abba Arsenius was sitting in his cell that he was harassed by demons. His servants, on their return, stood outside his cell and heard him praying to God in these words, ‘O God, do not leave me. I have done nothing good in your sight, but according to your goodness, let me now make a beginning of good.’

—Abba Arsenius

prayer young man 1“I have done no good but allow me to make a beginning of good,” says the monk. How do we make a beginning of good? Do we go out and do a lot of good deeds, give sacrificially to others or read the Bible daily? None of those things would hurt us, and they may even help, but such actions are not the beginning of good. Jesus says that we must leave behind the things of the world and seek God. In our seeker’s journey, we will find good. That good is recognizing our helplessness in comparison to our Creator. When we accomplish that, we can then start doing the “good” things.

The beginning of good is when we learn that we are totally dependent upon God Good-Deeds-2and have the courage to admit it. Such a simple confession changes our lives and allows us to begin the path that leads to good. A professing Christian does not plan to do good but does good naturally. The Holy Spirit that lives in us guides us to situations and time that allow the light of God to shine through us.

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Filed under Abba Arsenius, Christian Journey, Desert Fathers