What is spiritual direction?
“Simply put, spiritual direction is helping people tell their sacred stories everyday.” – Liz Budd Ellmann, M.Div., Executive Director, Spiritual Directors International
The ultimate goal of spiritual direction is to deepen your connection with God. This is attained primarily through the act of Christian listening. Listening occurs through prayer, times of silence, spiritual disciplines and through sharing with your spiritual director about your relationship with God.
“Spiritual direction is a journey towards more freely and deeply choosing to surrender to God.” – Dr. Gerald May, Care of Mind, Care of Spirit
What is a spiritual director?
A director will have certification in spiritual direction which includes: deep knowledge of Christian faith and tradition, scripture and theology, human and spiritual development, adhere to the Professional Ethics and Guidelines prescribed by Spiritual Directors International and participate in a Peer Supervision Group for Spiritual Directors
Recognizing that the Holy Spirit is the true director in this relationship, a spiritual director will pray, support and encourage you as you listen and respond to God. Spiritual direction is not therapy. There may be therapeutic elements in direction sessions, but the purpose is to work together in discerning God’s presence and leading in your life.
Who participates in spiritual direction?
There is much diversity in an individual who is looking and listening to God – if there is a search for meaning, a desire for deeper life, a movement toward reflection, a willingness to live with profound questions, a longing to know and love God (again) then spiritual direction may be for you.
Groups or teams
Three to six individuals are guided in active listening for themselves and with each other. Though each is alone with God in the silence, together they are held in the Loving Presence, and share responses and reflections.
Spiritual direction has been practiced in the church for centuries. Today those who long to engage with God on a more intimate level and have someone to walk with him or her on this journey seek it.
“I feel specifically called to offer spiritual direction to Christian leaders. The danger for Christian leaders is that in your call to serve others on their spiritual journey, you can lose your own close connection to God. Spiritual Direction is an important discipline that can serve to help you pay attention to your own soul and your soul’s desire for an authentic relationship with God.” – Clare Loughrige
What can spiritual direction do for you?
- Help you pay attention to how God is moving in your life right now
- Help discern the will of God
- Observe attachments that keep us from being free to fully experience and express God in our lives
- Help move you toward creativity
- Discover God-given essence and false self patterns
- Help move you toward love
- Help move you toward interior freedom
“Your whole life is your spiritual life, God is in every part of it… God is, in fact, continually creating you through all your experience, and you are the indispensable co-creator.” – Thomas Hart
About our time together
Individual sessions usually:
- Are one hour in length
- Occur monthly
- Fees per session are quoted
Group sessions usually:
- Consist of three to six leaders, plus a trained spiritual director
- Occur monthly
- Fees per session are quoted
- Have a negotiated duration (such as, from 1.5 to 2 hours for 9 to 12 months)
Spiritual direction is sharing both the negatives and the positives in your spiritual journey. Honesty is essential in both your relationship with God, and with your director.
“Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God. Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.” – John Calvin
Before coming to direction, think over the past few weeks and where God has been in your life. If you journal, it may be helpful to look over the entries and see if you notice patterns or themes. This is a time for you. It is you and the Holy Spirit who set the agenda for the meeting time.
Some topics for the first meeting
- Understanding of spiritual direction
- Purpose of the directee/director relationship
- Frequency, length, and format of meetings
- Prayer for participant/s between meetings
- Spiritual direction as a spiritual exercise, not an intellectual exercise
Your spiritual director should know if you are under treatment by a therapist, or receiving medication.