Over the years I have noticed that most spiritual teachers who teach on a national level develop what I call, “this year’s message.” That works because only rarely does anyone see them twice in a year, so most of their audience thinks they are listening to a wonderful message crafted especially for them. I suppose that tendency is a bit narcissistic, but given that they don’t have much to compare it with it is understandable. It is only if you follow a particular teacher more closely that you start to see and hear what I call “spiritual reruns.” Those of us who have served in environments where we had to come up with a new talk each week shake our heads with a mixture of disappointment and jealousy that people actually get away with such limited creativity.

I believe there is also a tendency, over the history of a teaching career, to recycle many of the same ideas. On one level, that makes sense. If I come up with something I consider really important I naturally will lift it up repeatedly because I want people to understand it. Over time I will develop my thought around that idea and it will expand. That’s a good thing! Perhaps the greater challenge is to keep my message fresh and avoid having my content turn into more of a reminiscing session than true teaching. As the teaching community ages, reminiscing becomes more of a danger. While great wisdom can be found among elders – a very counter cultural notion in the west – we also need a mixture of fresh but humble voices. New seminary grads need not apply.

As I reflect on the graying of everyone’s favorite teachers, I recognize it’s time for some fresh blood. It’s past time for those same teachers to start mentoring their successors so that we don’t have a generation that needs to spend time relearning old wisdom before they can step out and teach. Those of us who are a little older need to jettison our favorite examples and metaphors in favor of something fresh – even, and perhaps especially, if it makes us a bit uncomfortable. That discomfort stimulates creativity and nudges us beyond the same safe ground on which we have trod for decades. In the end, that process benefits all of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.