`Father, how is it possible for some difficult, wrongheaded characters be helped?`
`As a carpenter I worked with crooked wood. It`s needed patience, because if you shave the crooked wood from one side or the other they show fiber. So I shaved them then with the double blade jointer, a little from one side and a little from the other and in this way I smoothed them. They became very beautiful because they have a pleasant surface and they don`t crack easily, they are very resistant. If you didn`t know this, you could have looked at them and thrown them. What I mean by this is that even the men with difficult character have inner qualities of their own and if they let you help them, they can make big leaps in their spiritual life. But you need to persist for a long time.
I never used big nails to fix two crooked boards, I shaved them first, I straightened them and afterwards joint them with a small nail. I didn`t join them by force because when we try to join two crooked boards with big nails, they will crack and they will break that forced joint. And what good would we get then?
It is required a great discernment, quite a lot of discernment when someone has to do with human souls. In spiritual life there is no fixed recipe, a rule. Each soul has his own quality and capacity. There are high capacity containers and small capacity containers. Some are made of plastic and they don`t withstand, others are metallic and they withstand. When the spiritual father knows the quality and the capacity of a soul, he will act according with the possibilities and the hereditary inheritance he has and also with the progress he had made. His behavior will be in accordance with the state of the person who confesses, with the sins he had made and with many other elements. With the shameless he will take care not to allow him show his shamelessness. With the sensitive soul he will take care to help him to defy with courage his problems.
It is also required not to pay attention to what you see in the exterior of a man and not to belive what others say and draw conclusions from this especially if he doesn`t have the charisma to see things thoroughly
Some boards although they seem very hard on the outside on their inside they are full of fiber. After shaving their skin you see what they are really made of. Some others on the outside they seem useless but on their inside there are very resistant.
The salvation of the soul requires gentleness. No mistakes must be made in the recipes. You see each body needs the vitamin it lack and each disease needs the right medicine.
Excerpt from Spiritual struggle – Pious Paisios the Athonite, Evanghelismos.