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What it means to be a spiritual counselor

Spiritual counselors and teachers (with the possible exception of–literally–a handful of masters) are human beings like everyone else, with strengths and weaknesses, gifts and foibles. Everyone’s role on earth, whether they are aware of it or not, is to learn lessons so that we can become more of who we truly are; inhabit our greatness and come closer to God. We humans learn by making mistakes. By putting time, money and energy into his personal and spiritual growth, Joel has developed skills which enable him to help others on their journeys. But he is still human; much wiser, less defended and more in his heart than he was when he started this journey, a little more conscious about the things he does, a little more aware of the effect his actions have, etc., but still human. He makes mistakes, gets angry, becomes afraid, laughs, feels pain, avoids pain, has fun, etc., just like everyone else.

Over the years, it has made the news when spiritual leaders show their failings, sometimes in a big way. Often the problem arises because they pretend to be something they are not–perfected. Sometimes the problem arises because they do not admit to others, or even themselves, that they have a lower self as well as a higher self, just like everyone else. A good spiritual counselor/teacher/leader will lead by example. Leading by example doesn’t mean being Mother Theresa or the Dalai Llama or the Pope. Leading by example means living your life in the best way you know how and when, not if, you make mistakes, taking responsibility for them and learning from them. A good spiritual leader/teacher will take responsibility for their mistake, learn from it, make restitution, and commit to avoiding the same mistake again.

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