If we work to correct ourselves and look more intently towards our “inner” activity rather than our external, giving precedence to divine help, we can in turn be of greater and more positive help to others. We will also achieve an inner serenity that will quietly help the souls of the people we encounter because spiritual serenity reflects the virtue of the soul and transforms souls.
When someone applies himself to external activity before having polished his spiritual inner state, he may struggle spiritually, but he will be fraught with worry, anxiety, lack of confidence in God and frequent loss of serenity. If he does not improve himself, he cannot say that his interest for the common good is pure. When he is liberated from the old self and all things worldly, then he will receive divine Grace and be not only at peace with himself, but also able to bring peace to everyone else. But if he has not received the Grace of God, then he can neither govern himself nor help others in order to bring about a divine effect. He must first be immersed in divine Grace and then utilise his resulting sanctified powers for the salvation of others.
From Spiritual Awakening (Spiritual Counsels of Elder Paisios)