Dear Sara: I've studied with you for over a year, and I'm curious: what do you think determines a great spiritual teacher? As well, how do you as a teacher determine who of your students have the “it” factor to do this work professionally?
From Sara: I so appreciate this question. To my mind, the most important quality to seek in a spiritual teacher is humility. By this, I mean a spiritual teacher who does not teach that they are better than you, or hold the idea that they are on a pedestal as an enlightened guru, priest, rabbi, workshop leader, author, celebrity or whatever role they occupy. No teacher is better than you. You are part of Collective Soul, just as any teacher is part of Collective Soul, There is no hierachy of souls!
Second, a teacher should not require that you "follow" him or her, or adopt restrictive practices, or blindly follow whatever teacher says, and most certainly, they should not require you to pay outrageous fees. We have seen enough of cult leader who claim to be spiritual teachers, and the time for this is over. If it looks like a cult, it is a cult. If it feels too expensive, it is too expensive. There are lots of ways to get to God. If someone tells you have they have the only way or the best way, they don't. The best way exists within you already.
So many teachers start off with the best intentions, but then as they gain a following they start to believe they are "better than", which they are not. Even the most enlightened or teacher—in fact, especially a person who is enlightened—knows that spiritual awakening can happen to anyone, at any time. Any person who desires to connect with the Universe can and will. Thus, the true teacher's goal is to help a student connect to the Divine, in whatever way that is meaningful for the student. Once this direct connection is made, the Universe will take care of the rest. Another way of putting it: a teacher is really a liason between the student and the Divine. A guide, a wayshower. That's all.
Finally, how do I determine who has the "it" factor to do this work professionally? I am very lucky, because the Universe sends so many extremely gifted people my way. What I look for first, is if the person has a deep, unalterable desire—if it's the only thing they want to do, or the only thing they feel called to do, or perhaps even one of the only things they can do really well–there are lots of readers like this.
Second, I look to see if the person has done their own inner work. They don't have to be perfect, by any means. But they must have done deep soul inquiry in their own lives, and healed or be willing to heal their own wound and shadows.
Finally, the person needs to have a quality of open-heartedness and true compassion. Psychic and energetic skills and techniques are secondary—those are easy to teach and learn. What really makes a great reader is a generous heart and the true desire to serve others as a Divine conduit.