Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lessons from Mother Teresa for All Who Follow Jesus

Almost twenty years ago, a local news reporter, Anne Ryder, went to Calcutta, India, to interview Mother Teresa. When Anne returned, she wrote an article for Indianapolis Women Magazine (no longer published) where she listed the top ten lessons she learned from Mother Teresa.

In 2008-2008, I was the mentor for the MOPS chapter at Fishers United Methodist Church. I looked forward to the twice monthly meetings. One of my responsibilities was to prepare a reflection on a topic relevant to mothers and children.

After reading Anne's article, I wrote my own adaptation of Mother Teresa's lessons focused on those who have young children

Anne's words are in bold print - mine are in italics.

10. Expect Miracles.

 Miracles come everyday! Be alert for them - when a child accomplishes a skill like riding a bike or solving math problems,  when you have a few minutes during a busy day to read or pray - when everyone likes a new dish served for dinner , when a flower blooms, when you hear God's voice and respond - these are miracles!

9. You must be spiritually empty to be filled.

 Keep an empty bowl on the kitchen table as a reminder that emptiness in body, mind and spirit leaves room for God to come in.

8. Get out of your comfort zone. Mother Teresa says it is the only way to let your heart be touched.

Recall experiences which have caused you to grow. Were these during "ordinary times" or moments when you've felt stretched?

7. Use your hands, not just your eyes and money.

 It's easy to write a check, but more effective to serve a meal or take pledges for a charity walk or cause. Participate in the Angel Tree project at Christmas or fill a box for a needy child through Samaritan's Purse. You might have your own interests where you devote your time and talents.

6. It is not how much you do that matters, but how much love with which you do it.

 Any task completed with love, however seemingly insignificant reflects God.

5. Keep it simple. We make our lives more complicated than they need to be.

 Simplicity opens the pathway to God. What can you live without? How can you reduce complicated schedules to allow more family time such as dinner together?

4. Matthew 25:35-40 - (Jesus is teaching.) "I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me. The righteous will then answer him, 'When Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you? Jesus replied, ' I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it to me!'" These words of Jesus are the guiding philosophy of Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity.

Treat everyone as if he/she was Jesus. We are created in God's image, and called to respond to the needs of those in our homes and around us.

3.The rich can be poorer than the poor.

What did Jesus say about possessions? What items did Jesus carry? Can you trust God to provide everything you need

2. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Treat everyone with an open, loving heart.

1. Find the silence of your heart and pray. Mother Teresa began praying at 4 a.m. She talked and listened to God, but always starts by finding the silence of her heart, which is where God talks to her.

Although finding time to pray with young children or a job outside the home, there are many ways to carve small increments of time to be still before God. Quiet your mind by taking a few deep breaths. Prayers can be a single word or asking God to enter your heart.

I was fortunate to hear Anne speak about her trip to India and the impact of spending time with Mother Teresa had on her life. Although Mother Teresa is no longer living, she left a legacy of compassionate love and service to emulate at any stage in life.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for Mother Teresa's life and for the lessons Anne learned from her trip.  Guide us to expect miracles, fill us with your love, give us strength to get out of our comfort zones, direct our hands to serve, let us spread love wherever we go, help us keep our lives simple, and love all whom we encounter, and create space so we can find the silence of our hearts to connect to you. Amen.


  1. I remember when Anne went (though I didn't have the privilege of hearing her speak). Thanks for sharing these lessons with your readers, so we can ponder them and, perhaps, begin living some of them in our own world.

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