Friday, October 29, 2010

How to Correct Others

There is great skill in learning how to correct the misdeeds of others.  A direct attack rarely succeeds.  Elder Paisios was a master at this.  He often used his charming sense of humor to correct others.  

Here is one example
The Elder was sitting in his garden with a few pilgrims having a discussion on spiritual matters.  A little boy, standing nearby was hitting the ground with a piece of wood making a loud noise, thus attracting the attention of the pilgrims.  The Elder, who had a very simple and charming way of telling people how to correct their mistakes without hurting their feelings, turned to the child and whispered laughingly:
   - George, dont hit so hard because it is night time in America, which is located right underneath us, and you will wake up its citizens.
The child obeyed immediately, while the relatives were laughing with the charming way Father Paisios told him to stop.

Source: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, p 112


  1. ...I am easily the worst at this..i have frequently been told that i need to learn diplomacy and to be nice in dealing with tendency is more that of a sledge hammer..i easily become angry/upset when i see the foolish ways of others..especially so when i see individuals who are clearly dysfunctional and their lives in disarray yet are unwilling to do the work of personal and spiritual growth..What ive learned is that people DONT WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH about themselves and their character defects..most simply dont care..on one hand its none of my business but on the other hand i feel compelled to 'help' them....may God help me with this delimma..

  2. I just found your blog, what a blessing! I am an orthodox wannabe and enjoy finding blogs like this one. Thanks.

  3. The challenge is to be clever like Elder Paisios and do it in a way that is accepted and does not cause anger in response. Until you can figure out how to help in a way that will be accepted, it maybe best to only pray for them and for the Holy Spirit to show you a way that will help them.
    We must also remember also the Scripture that reminds us to give priority to the "log" in our own eye and that you will be judged by how you judge others. So this is a high skill to be able to help others in their spiritual growth.
    Its like a two edge sword. You can be in trouble if you do and if you don't. Be wise as the example of Elder Paisios and act from a place of prayer.
    Lets see what others have to offer on this important question.

  4. Instead of confrontation, an enticing replacement thought to ponder and gentle redirection!

    The Elder was not only wise, but subtle in his touch...

  5. Fr. Charles, is it not also true that to follow the example of Elder Paisios it is first necessary to become humble and holy like Elder Paisios? For many of us (or at least for me), the impulse to correct others at least partially rests on an unreasonable belief that I am right, that I have an understanding that they do not, that what I think is actually right for them right now, in these circumstances -- and this belief is often proved wrong with the passage of time...

    So often it is best to keep silent and try to pray more.

    d. Nicholas

  6. ..I very much appreciate the words of wisdom from all..Lazarus's words immediately brought to mind the movie 'INCEPTION' which in a manner of speaking IS how we help others by 'replacement thought and gentle redirection'...Nicholas makes 2 very good points, and i must to my proven wrong..even more so of late...Fr Charles's sage advice is right-on and serves as something of a 'confirmation' of wisdom recieved elsewhere.....thanks again.

  7. When I have tried to 'correct' others incorrectly, I have found that my motivation was not love, and I have been lacking in humility.
    Whatever matter it was at the moment that happened to feel so compelling that I should say something, in these cases, I have plainly been deluded. What matter should be more pressing to me than my own need for humility and love?


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