As a new school year begins, I can’t help but feel a little winded from a summer of giving. I knew it was time to take a spiritual inventory before I continued to give as a girls minister to our leaders and girls. I have a folder titled “Spiritual vitality” which I had created almost 6 years ago that contains some nuggets of wisdom and some checklists to help me personally in terms of my “giving meter”. It had some scraps and documents scanned in from various retreats and/or conferences I had attended. In one of the documents, it contained the following paragraph. and so I thought I would share it with those who also are constantly giving of themselves in hopes that you too take wisdom from the 12th century as I did. 🙂
Wisdom from Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century)
We must not give to others what we have received for ourselves; nor must we keep for ourselves that which we have received to spend on others. You fall into the latter error, if you possess the gift of eloquence or wisdom, and yet–through fear or sloth or false humility–neglect to use the gift for others’ benefit. And on the other hand, you dissipate and lose what is your own, if without right intention and from some wrong motive, you hasten to outpour yourself on others when your soul is only half-filled.
If you are wise therefore you will show yourself a reservoir and not a canal. For a canal pours out as fast as it takes in; but a reservoir waits till it is full before it overflows, and so communicates its surplus…We have all too few reservoirs in the Church at present, though we have canals a plenty…they (canals) desire to pour out when they themselves are not yet inpoured; they are readier to speak than to listen. excercise authority on others, although they have not yet learnt to rule themselves..Let the reservoir of which we spoke just now take pattern from the spring; for the spring does not form a stream or spread into a lake until it is brimful…Be filled thyself, then, but discreetly, mind, pour out thy fullness…Out of thy fullness help me if thou canst; and , if not, spare thyself.
Extracted from Great Devotional Classics: Selections from the writings of Bernard of Clairvaux, Edited by Douglas Steere (The Upper Room, 1961). pages 24-25