Accountability is Everything

> As we parted, the starets blessed me and said that while learning the prayer, I should come to see him and reveal and confess all to him honestly and openly, for it is difficult and futile to live in an inner spiritual life properly without the guidance of a spiritual director.

???”The Way of a Pilgrim,” First Narrative

In the excerpt above, a Christian pilgrim in Russia goes on a search
to learn genuine inward prayer. He’s been wrestling with the
scripture from 1 Thessalonians 5, “pray without ceasing.” When he
runs across a monastery, he seeks the guidance of a starets, or
‘religious teacher’. The teacher gives him the counsel you see here
and encourages him to pray ‘The Jesus Prayer’, “Lord Jesus Christ,
have mercy on me,” in this context. The meaning and usefulness of the
Jesus Prayer is a post for another time, but what the teacher tells
the pilgrim is one of the most under-stressed disciplines in our
church today.

Those I have been in ministry with over the years have heard me say
time and time again, “You can NOT do the Christian life alone.” The
starets in the story is stressing this and is doing something that we
find many pastors and spiritual teachers doing less and less of today.
It is important that you, as a disciple, talk about your faith; that
you are honest about your struggles and pitfalls, open about your
strides and leaps of faith with the right people. Your pastor and
other leaders in your church should serve as spiritual directors for
you.

Am I encouraging you to overload your pastor with times of confession
about your faith and life? Sort of. Here’s what I mean: give your
pastor a reason to call upon other faithful leaders in your church to
hear out the needs of your congregation. Go to those in leadership in
your church and lean on them for guidance as your navigate through the
waters of faith. It is indeed “difficult and futile to live in an
inner spiritual life properly without the guidance of a spiritual
director,” as the starets instructed the pilgrim. Living out faith
together is the key.

As pastors and teachers, we above others have been given the
responsibility to “Bear one another???s burdens,” which fulfills “the
law of Christ,” Galatians 6.2. This means that you as a faithful
follower of Christ ??? or ‘pilgrim’ ??? need the grace that comes from
bringing yourself to a place of honesty and confession with someone
who can hear you out, who can listen to your heart. Seek that in your
church. It may be a seasoned Christian in your church family, a
retired pastor, your current pastor or associate pastor, or may be a
Sunday school teacher.

The point is to develop a relationship that allows you to be heard.
Honesty will give you the freedom to feel God in ways you’ve never
known. Be heard when it comes to your faith (your doubts, your
concerns, your joys, etc.). Challenge your pastor and leaders to
listen to you and the hearts of others in your faith community. Seek
God in a relationship that invites growth. Accountability is
everything.

> Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

???Psalm 80.19

May God bless you with guidance this week.

Rev. Whit R. Martin
Pastor, New Liberty United Methodist Church
www.newlibertyumc.org

Devotional Blog – http://devoblog.posterous.com

Sent from Whit’s iPad

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