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. Instead, it seeks a conversation that will help you become more attuned to the presence of Jesus in and around you.
Spiritual Direction 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.
Eugene Peterson wrote, Spiritual Direction “is cultivated awareness that God has already seized the initiative … working diligently, redemptively, and strategically before I appeared on the scene before I was aware there was something here for me to do.” The Contemplative Pastor, pg. 60.
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 …
… discern the Holy Spirit’s work in their life.
… envision the person God desires them to be.
… pay attention to God’s urgings towards maturity.
… reflect on their journey, allowing God 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 Is The Biblical Basis?
Jesus provides the clearest Biblical picture. His encounters with the Twelve followed a style that was decidedly different from the way he spoke to Mary and Martha. With both the highly educated Pharisee Nicodemus and the probably under-educated Samaritan woman Jesus wanted them to struggle and ponder their way to personal conclusions. And all of his conversations relied greatly on thoughtful questions. Truth that “dawns” on a person is always more powerful than truth that is simply handed to them.
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, pg. 20.
“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
“…to stand by people in their seeking and searching.”
— Morton Kelsey, Companions on the Inner Way, pg. 59
What Is The Goal Of Spiritual Direction?
“The faithfulness of God is at the core of spiritual direction. When we seek spiritual direction, we are utterly dependent on God and God's love reaching for us … We long to experience God's presence in this shattered, exquisite world and need help to believe in our own ability to recognize God's voice.”
— Jeannette A. Bakke, Holy Invitations: Exploring Spiritual Direction, p. 21
“As a spiritual director, I see myself as a companion to people on their journeys. As a companion, I accompany others who become more fully who they have been created to be, sinking their roots deep into the living waters of God’s grace and bearing fruit in the world.”
— Susan S. Phillips, Candlelight: Illuminating Spiritual Direction, pg. 96
“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, pg. 185.
Who Is The “Real” Spiritual Director?
“A spiritual director is then one who helps another to recognize and to follow the inspirations of grace in his life, in order to arrive at the end to which God is leading him”
— Thomas Merton, Spiritual Direction and Meditation, p. 17.
“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, p. xiv
“The real director is the Holy Spirit, for simply to live is to be pursued by the divine Presence … a spiritual director is the Christian who watches in amazement the marvels of God as they unfold in another's heart.”
— W. Paul Jones, The Art of Spiritual Direction, p.7
“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, pg. 3
“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, p. 133