Words to Remember from Mother Teresa

I am reading Henri Nouwen’s book mother-teresa.jpg Spiritual Direction.

It is very good.

I love the following story about an exchange between Nouwen and Mother Teresa. As you read this excerpt from the book, think about the significance of her response to Nouwen after he had the opportunity to share some of his concerns:

Once, quite a few years ago, I had the opportunity of meeting Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I was struggling with many things at the time and decided to use the occasion to ask Mother Teresa’s advice. As soon as we sat down I started explaining all my problems and difficulties — trying to convince her of how complicated it all was! When, after ten minutes of elaborate explanation, I finally became quiet, Mother Teresa looked at me and quietly said: “Well, when you spend one hour a day adoring your Lord and never do anything which you know is wrong . . . you will be fine!”

When she said this, I realized, suddenly, that she had punctured my big balloon of complex self-complaints and pointed me far beyond myself to the place of real healing. Reflecting on this brief but decisive encounter, I realized that I had raised a question from below and that she had given me an answer from above. At first, her answer didn’t seem to fit my question, but then I began to see that her answer came from God’s place and not from the place of my complaints. Most of the time we respond to questions from below with answers from below. The result is often more confusion. Mother Teresa’s answer was like a flash of lightning in my darkness.

(p. 5)


What do you think about her response? How might her response actually be refreshing?

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6 thoughts on “Words to Remember from Mother Teresa

  1. Wow. That is a humbling response. After I read that, everything that seemed so important at work this morning just melted away. What an example she was!

  2. Mark, there is something very simple, very profound, and very focused about her response. I really like this.

  3. She changed his point of view!

    I read the following this week and have shared it with others. It really made me think.
    Oswald Chambers wrote, Satan does not tempt us just to make us do wrong things— he tempts us to make us lose what God has put into us through regeneration, namely, the possibility of being of value to God. He does not come to us on the premise of tempting us to sin, but on the premise of shifting our point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil.

    Spiritual Direction sounds like a book I will be adding to my “books to read” list.

  4. Thanks so much Jim. I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now and I wanted to let you know what a great encouragement you are. Both with your own posts and the links to other posts. Keep it up my friend!

    • John, I am so glad that you wrote! I am honored that you would read this blog for well over a year. Thanks for the encouragement today. I hope that you will comment again.