Ten Thousand Monks

VII.xliii.1. A brother sought help from the holy Abba Serapion, who had charge of ten thousand  monks.

“A certain group of the brothers have chosen me to be prior,” he said. “Tell me, how do you go on about being in charge?”

“For me, to be in charge is perhaps a burden,” he said. “For our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in the Gospel, ‘If you love me keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). And when the disciples argued among themselves about who was the greatest, he said, ‘If anyone wishes to become great among you he shall be your minister, and whoever wants to be chief shall be the servant of all.’ (Mark.10:43). The apostle Peter has this warning for pastors, ‘Feed the flock of God which is given to you, providing for them not by force but voluntarily, and not for the sake of filthy lucre. Be an example to the flock, and when the prince of shepherds shall appear you will receive an imperishable crown of glory’ (1 Peter 5:2). Practice what you preach in such a way that you don’t just give them commands, but show them by your example what to do. Don’t have favourites but be a shepherd to all, for our Saviour said, ‘Blessed is he who rules over his family and gives them meat in due season’ (Matthew 24:45).

De Vitis Patrum, Book 7, chapter 43.

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