I cannot believe in the efficacy of human activity in matters where His Majesty appears to have set a limit to it and to have been pleased to reserve action for Himself. (Teresa of Avila: Fourth Mansions: Chapter Three)
We do things. God does things. When we get these mixed up we regress spiritually. When God “moves” we should suspend our activity. Teresa says, “When from the secret signs He gives us we seem to realize that He is hearing us, it is well for us to keep silence”. Properly practiced, spiritual disciplines accelerate and deepen spiritual formation. But we should not ignore the Spirit by treating spiritual disciplines as a task list requiring completion when God is trying to do something else. A full spiritual life requires discipline and spontaneity. We practice spiritual disciplines because they keep us centered. But we embrace spontaneity because Jesus may engage us without notice.
Many times we get stuck in meaningless or low impact routines. When this rigidity seeps into our leadership we become obstructionists sabotaging the growth and progress of the institutions and people we serve. In the spiritual life, like any other area of life, we need to know what to do. But we also need to know when to stop doing. Teresa says, “the person who does most is he who thinks least and desires to do least”.
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