St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain advised beginners how to choose an elder:
1. An Elder who is a spiritual man with virtues, more a practitioner than solely a teacher. It is good if he has become a ‘captain’ after starting out as a ‘deck boy,’ so that he does not apply to others a monastic life he has only learned from books. He should have great love and discernment by nature, so he can feel sympathy for his children.… It is very helpful if the disciple is at least eighteen to twenty years younger than the Elder, as this creates in the disciple a natural feeling of respect.”
2. The Elder should live a simple life, without cares and unnecessary worldly concerns.…
3. The Elder should be a friend of stillness and of prayer, in order that he unite you also to God through prayer so you can find the true joy of divine consolation.”Elder Paisios, Epistles, 53–54.