6. If any doubts concerning the spirituality of the chosen father emerge in your mind, it would be better for you not to cooperate closely with him until the situation becomes clear. You should not do any risky experiments on your way to salvation because they can cause you permanent spiritual damage.
1. Remember about the words of St. Simeon the New Theologian: “The one who is looking for a spiritual father should look for a person who has been born spiritually already and who knows his God and Father, so that this person can give you spiritual birth too and turn you into a true son of God”.
2. You should understand that a perfect spiritual father is a person of holy life. However, you should proceed from real life and should not daydream. This is why I would like to advise you not to make excessive demands on a spiritual father. Choose from the candidates which are around you.
3. Bishop Peter (Ekaterinovsky) wrote: “It is hard to find a good guide in our spiritual life”. This statement is quite relevant even today. Bishop Peter thought that there is no need to look for a spiritual father who has attained holiness. It would be enough if he is a righteous, advised and experienced person. Besides, he should have desire and opportunity to guide his spiritual children. “If there is no such person, then we need to pray God that he sends us one”, said Bishop Peter.
4. Keep in mind that you can meet a false guide on your way. St. Theophan warned that a person, who is considered an elder, often turns out to be an elder only “by his grey hair”. This can be either evident for everyone, or can be hidden deep beneath his righteous appearance. This is why there is always a possibility to come to a false guide instead of coming to a true one; to find harm and death instead of help and salvation.
5. How can we distinguish a false mentor from a true one? According to St. Simeon the New Theologian, a specific feature of a true spiritual father is his fatherly love. St. Paisios the Athonite said: “The evidence of the spiritual condition of a father is that he is rather hard on himself, but at the same time is very lenient on other people. What is more, he never uses the Church canons against others!”
7. We are surrounded by various spiritual fathers. They are different by their characters, experience and the level of spiritual perfection. How can you understand whom of them you should choose to be your spiritual father? While looking for a guide, keep the main rule – pay attention not to his mind, his character and education, but to his faith and firm commitment to the Church teaching.