A True Shepherd

To the Shepherd

1. In this terrestial book, O divine father, I have given you the last place, but I am certain that you are inscribed in the celestial book before us all, if indeed He is truthful who said, “The last in manner of thought shall be first in dignity.’ ‘(Cf. St. Matthew xx, 16)

2. A shepherd is pre-eminently he that is able to seek out and set aright his lost, rational sheep by means of guilelessness, zeal, and prayer.

3. A pilot is the man who, once having received spiritual strength from God and from his own toils, is able to draw up his ship, not merely from out of the billows, but also from out of the abyss itself.

4. A physician is he who suffers from no carnal or spiritual malady, and has no need of any remedy from other men.

5. A genuine teacher is he who has received from God the tablet of spiritual knowledge, inscribed by His Divine finger, that is, by the in-working of illumination, and who has no need of other books. It is as unseemly for teachers to give instruction from notes taken from other men’s writings, as it is for painters to take inspiration from other men’s compositions.

6. Teach from on high as you instruct the earthborn; and by Your outward aspect, teach other men. Do not forget him who said, “I received not my teaching of men, neither by men, nor was I taught it.” (Cf. Galatians i, 12) For lowly instructions cannot possibly heal

7. A good pilot saves the ship, and a good shepherd quickens and cures his ailing sheep.

St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, p.231

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