Somebody shared a quote on social media by an Orthodox Bishop who is revered in that tradition as a saintly man.
Strive never to offend anyone. Never grow angry. Never teach. When something happens against your will, say: “Glory to God, Glory to God!” One needs to restrain oneself.Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev) Bogucharsk
One girl asked what he meant by “Never teach.” I’m not exactly the beard of knowledge on this subject but I’ll try and answer it for you. I’m also nervous writing about this considering the premise of some of my blog posts are to instruct others on certain topics that are faith related.
It’s absolutely fine to teach others about the faith, but what the Archbishop is referring to is spiritual direction. That’s a tough one especially for those of us who are spiritually immature. A person who presumes to teach another about the faith becomes a massive target for the Devil.
This is especially true for those of us whose wisdom is only intellectually deep and are simply repeating what we read from a book of St.John of the Cross or the Fathers in the Philokalia. If a person does this and the virtues are not active in him, or he is not at the very least striving for them, he puts himself in great danger. The Devil will make a mess of such a person over time. Like a Lion that plays with its food is how that will go down.
Even if a person does possess the virtues it’s probably best he’s not always eager to teach another. I say eager and not that he shouldn’t teach at all because there is a danger one can fall into a state of spiritual pride and delusion through teaching. It’s a dangerous position to find oneself especially if you’re weak like I am and are prone to being thrown about like a rag doll by the ego.
It’s a difficult one. Whenever someone approaches me for a personal one to one, I try to pass them off to a Holy priest or just about any priest. The reason for this is because there’s a fear in me about presuming to advise another soul. Even this blog worries me. Should it become successful over night attracting too much attention I may be tempted to delete it.
It sounds ridiculous but there is actually something worse than being immersed in the world, and that is throwing oneself headlong into the fires of Hell through spiritual pride. It’s a far worse state to back out of than the former and those of us who allow ourselves become mastered by it, it will not go well for us on the day of Judgment.
At the same time we must learn to strike some balance. We cannot allow ourselves become like the man who hid his talent and produced nothing at all simply because he was afraid of getting out into the thick of the spiritual battle and experiencing some setbacks.
I suppose teaching the faith from an intellectual catechetical point of view is fine. But when we venture out to guide souls personally on a one to one basis there’s a great danger present both for the alleged director and the person being directed. If both of them are blind (and I don’t claim to be able to see) then both will surely fall into a pit.
I ask you to pray for me, because this quote has reminded me of my own spiritual pride. It has made me check myself and to take great care in how I behave in the Church and with other souls.