Lessons from Mother Teresa

What does Mother Teresa teach us about living a Christian lifestyle? These 7 lessons give us all the instruction we need to live a life of love.

I’ve always loved Mother Teresa, or Momma T as I call her. I believe she’s the closest human-form of Jesus that we’ll ever see in our lifetime. Her life exemplified everything that Jesus taught us about the way to live a life pleasing to God.

What can we learn from her incredible example?

These are the 7 key lessons that Mother Teresa taught me by living her life according to God’s will:

1- You don’t do it because it’s easy.

Nothing about Mother Teresa’s mission was easy. As a matter of fact, she worked under dire conditions, in poverty-stricken areas, with sickly people, few financial resources, and lacking the latest medical technology. Every aspect of her work was a challenge. She had no break, no vacations, no weekends off at the beach, no holiday getaways. No spouse and kids to take her mind off her worries when she went home at the end of a long day. She lived her life mission.

If we think God’s calling for us is hard, most of us don’t even know what “hard” is, by Mother Teresa’s example.

I certainly don’t have the strength or determination to do what Mother Teresa did with her life, but her example pushes me to limits beyond which I thought I was capable.

By the end of her life, she was a crumpled elderly lady. Do you think her work was easy?

God doesn’t ask us to do only what is easy. But we can use Mother Teresa as an example and step up to the challenge.

Key Mother Teresa quotes:

He has made us for a purpose. He will fulfill it if we don’t put any obstacle in his way.

Do not let the past disturb you – just bury everything in the Sacred Heart and begin again with joy.

If you do your work with joy, you can bring many souls to God. Joy is prayer, a sign of our generosity, evident in our eyes, our faces, our actions.


2- Listen to God.

Mother Teresa’s mission was to serve God by serving His people. She understood the calling to her ministry and performed expertly.

Some of us, myself included, have a harder time discerning our calling, or maybe we just aren’t ready to accept the calling yet, so we’ve tuned out the request.

Mother Teresa can be our example of the extraordinary bond that is possible with God when we offer ourselves over to be used in His service.

Key Mother Teresa quote:

God’s language is silence. “Be still and know that I am God.” He requires us to be silent to discover him.


3- Do everything with love.

Many of Mother Teresa’s notable quotes involve acting with love.

Mother Teresa didn’t judge the people she helped. She didn’t scold them for their past sins, she didn’t refuse to help them because they weren’t Christian, she didn’t require them to repent before she helped. She just helped them by loving them.

Mother Teresa’s service was the epitome of Christianity and one that we can easily emulate. Loving her neighbor as herself. Loving her neighbor as if he were Jesus. Serving her neighbor without judgement. Without throwing stones. Mother Teresa lived her life exactly as Jesus has instructed us, with faith, hope, and love. The greatest of those being love. Most of us find it pretty easy to love our family and friends. But do we lead with love and without judgment when it comes to strangers, as Mother Teresa did?

Key quotes:

It is not enough to say, “I love.” We must put that love into a living action.

We are commanded to love God and our neighbor equally, without difference. We don’t have to look for ways to fill this command, they’re all around us.

Jesus wants us to love each other as the Father has loved him. There is no greater love than the love for one another in our families, but there is so much hurt instead of love, bitterness instead of sweetness… If there is no love in our home, first let us examine our prayer life.

We must reach the heart. To reach the heart, we must do – love is proven in deeds.

When we are tempted to speak uncharitably or to bring up someone’s past failures, let us hear Jesus say: Throw the stone only if you are free from sin.


4- One person can make a difference.

The world’s problems can feel overwhelming and insurmountable. They are. We aren’t called to solve the world’s problems. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference.

Maybe the difference is only in our classroom, or in our church ministry group, or in our neighborhood association, or maybe the only difference is the way we love our child or our spouse or our parent. Even a small difference is worth the effort. Small differences stack up to big differences.

Mother Teresa shows us that one person can make a huge difference, and that certainly means that each of us is capable of making a small difference. Small differences are still differences! Don’t be defeated because you can’t change the world. Change your world.

Key quote:

In spite of all our defects, God is in love with us and keeps using us to light the light of love and compassion in the world.


5- Selfless Obedience.

How much easier would it have been for Mother Teresa to just live her life as a typical citizen in her community? Or maybe as a nun or a counselor to wayward youth?

How many times must Mother Teresa have doubted God’s calling? How many times must she have wished for God to “take the cup” from her, as Jesus did before his crucifixion? Yet Jesus and Mother Teresa both accepted the will of God and plowed through the fear, the doubt, the pain, the loneliness, and the suffering to fulfill God’s wishes.

This is true obedience.  Can we accept our calling and show a fraction of that obedience?

Key quotes:

We will be the happiest people in the world if we belong to God, if we place ourselves at his disposal, if we let him use us as he pleases.

Prompt, simple, blind, cheerful obedience to God is the proof of faith.

Jesus said, again and again, “Thy will be done,” and we say the same thing through our obedience to him


6- Be extraordinary at home.

It all starts at home. Being an extraordinary spouse, parent, son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother, friend, and neighbor. We have hundreds of interactions daily with people. Do we interact with love? If not, find the source of the issue and change it, because without being extraordinary at home, we’ll struggle to make impact beyond our home.

Being extraordinary in our daily life should be our goal and is the foundation for larger impact in the world.

Key quotes:

We shall not waste our time in looking for extraordinary experiences in our life of prayer… but do our day-to-day ordinary duties with extraordinary love and devotion.

Be a true follower of God in thought, word, and deed: if you do this in your family, it will overflow to all.

Find at least one good point in the other person and build from there. In the family, you should thank each other, mentioning the good you have seen others do. In short, an understanding love – a love that sees the good in others – will be our goal

Let us make our homes real places of love so that we can overcome any hatreds. Love begins at home – everything depends on how we love one another at home

Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.” If in my name you give a glass of water, you gave it to me… Jesus came to teach us how to love one another. Not big things. Small things, but with great love.


7- Give:

Mother Teresa gave of everything she had. Financially, emotionally, spiritually. It might seem as if that was a torturous sacrifice, but she found her greatest satisfaction there.

Sometimes we stress over not having enough money, or stress over being snubbed by a neighbor or flubbing an exam.

When we turn our focus outward, we can feel the joy Mother Teresa felt when she gave her life in service to others rather than keeping herself as the center of her world.

How much more satisfaction would we feel to give as Mother Teresa did?

Key quotes:

I believe that poverty will be over when you and I share of ourselves, of what we have and what we are. Let us give until it hurts.

We must be like St. Paul. Once he realized Jesus’s love for him, he no longer cared about anything else.

To love, it is necessary to give. To give, it is necessary to be free from selfishness, to have the courage of poverty

If your heart is full of worldly things, you cannot hear the voice of God.


Mother Teresa is one example of a contemporary Christian hero who’s worth emulating. May her life provide the encouragement you need to say “Yes!” to God’s calling.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Quotes are taken from Thirsting for God – Daily Meditations. (I am not a sales affiliate!)


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