Yes, I think it is useful—in fact essential—to consider the matter of personal affinity with a guide. One must be careful, however, that a supposed “affinity” is not in fact a disguise for the ego just wanting to have its own way! It is obvious that a good master will sometimes rebuke and criticize us, and we must not decide to change masters simply because we prefer not to be challenged or corrected or because we are look for more pleasant companionship. On the other hand, it is important to have the confidence, born of both affection and respect, to ask those who guide us whatever questions we wish, and if one is having difficulty in this domain, it may in part be the result of a certain lack of affinity. This is simply in the nature of things.

Do you have the little book by Bishop Kallistos called The Orthodox Way? His words there (Chapter 5) are useful: “The starets cannot help another unless the other . . . opens his heart in loving trust to the starets. . . . Because the relationship is always personal, a particular starets cannot help everyone equally. He can help only those who are specifically sent to him by the Spirit. Likewise the disciple should not say, ‘My starets is better than all the others.’ He should say only: ‘My starets is the best for me” (p. 97).