What Is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual Direction is an ancient practice to help Christians better understand their own spiritual story and enter more fully into the story God is unfolding. It is offered as a one-to-one relationship in which a trained person assists another person in the search of ever-closer connections with God.
While counseling primarily deals with the past and life coaching with the future, spiritual direction centers on the present moment with God. What is he doing in your life right now? Spiritual direction is not discipling, teaching, or mentoring. It is more about “holy listening” than about providing instructions, assignments, or direct advice. A spiritual director listens carefully to the unfolding of your life to help discern the ways you are being led by God into a deeper and richer spiritual life.
What Is The Biblical Basis?
Jesus provides the clearest Biblical picture. Of course, he played the role of teacher, counselor and discipler, but he ultimately wanted people come to their own understanding of where they were and what they thought — "he who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Mk 4:9, 23). His encounters with the Twelve followed a style that was decidedly different from the way he spoke to Mary and Martha. With both the Pharisee Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman Jesus wanted them to struggle and ponder their way to personal conclusions. And all of his conversations relied greatly on thoughtful questions. He knew that truth that “dawns” on a person is always more powerful than truth that is simply handed to them.
Who Is Spiritual Direction For?
Spiritual Direction is available for those in our church and our community who hunger for God. Those who desire spiritual direction seek to the Holy Spirit’s work in their life. They envision the person God desires them to be as allowing him to lead.
Jean Laplace wrote, "Direction [is] the help that one gives another to enable him to become himself in faith.” Preparing for Spiritual Direction.
Through silence, holy listening, and attentive waiting the Spiritual Director walks alongside as a fellow traveler and spiritual friend, providing hospitality, presence, and dialogue. These are opportunities for significant conversations about spiritual desire and development.
What Does A Spiritual Director Do?
“First and foremost, the director listens. To listen to another person in a way that helps that person hear the grace and truth of God is one of the greatest gifts we can give. Loving listening is active and engaged. It is more about offering questions than giving answers.”
— Alice Fryling, Seeking God Together.
“The task of the spiritual director is to be positioned, like a campfire in the wilderness, welcoming sojourners from all corners of life … The job of the spiritual director is to keep the fire burning because one never knows when a traveler will come to sit. It doesn't matter where on the journey the traveler has been exploring, or how long they have been walking, if they come in peace to sit on a log by the campfire, they are welcome.”
— Simon Brown, Mission and the Art of Spiritual Direction.
Who Is The “Real” Spiritual Director?
“What is the purpose of a spiritual director? … His direction is simply and clearly to lead us to our real director. He is the means of God to open the path to the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit.” — Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline.
“Unlike counseling or psychotherapy, the process of spiritual direction is focused not on technique and intervention by the director but rather on listening and discernment by both director and directee … relying on God as the ‘real director.’”
— Anne Winchell Silver, Trustworthy Connections: Interpersonal Issues in Spiritual Direction.
“Spiritual Direction could be defined as taking place when one person (the director) prayerfully supports and encourages another person (the directee) to attend and respond to God … The real "director" is God.”
— Sue Pickering, Spiritual Direction: A Practical Introduction.
“At its core, spiritual direction attends to the faithfulness and initiative of God. The Holy Spirit is really the Director of the time together as both parties pay attention to God’s movements and call.”
— Adele Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.