> What is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual direction is a ministry of the Church in discernment. The focus of spiritual direction is on how one can further develop and cultivate one’s personal relationship with God. It is one of the ministries through which we can fulfill the command of Hebrews 10:24 – how to stir up one another to love and good works.
...the real director in spiritual direction is God
Christian spiritual direction is primarily a ministry in which one Christian (the director) helps another (the directee) to discern God’s presence and activity in the directee’s life and also the directee’s reactions and responses to God’s activity. It is often said that the real director in spiritual direction is God, while the human spiritual director is more of a witness, one that points to God’s activity on behalf of the directee. Spiritual direction can also be done in a group context, in which a group of Christians together prayerfully seek to discern God’s activity in the life of a fellow believer.
It is common for believers to seek out spiritual direction when there is a change in their spiritual life. Sometimes it is a change in how one experiences God’s presence; sometimes it is pending change in one’s life circumstances or vocational call. Other times, believers seek direction simply through a desire to grow more deeply in their prayer life or ministry.
Spiritual direction is similar to biblical and pastoral counseling in that it is biblically grounded and involves Christians helping one another to live the Christian life. Psychological counseling is intended to help people solve personal and interpersonal issues.
...invites us into deeper relationship with God
Spiritual direction differs from all three primarily in its focus: the intention in spiritual direction is not to help solve the person’s problem, but rather to look for God’s activity within the problem and within the rest of the person’s life experience. This invites us into deeper relationship with God in the midst of whatever we are experiencing.
Perhaps the best way to communicate the gift of spiritual direction is to hear from people who have experienced it:
God is using spiritual direction for my transformation. Living a life of shame and sorrow I was hiding from everyone including God. Afraid to be real, to be fully known, to be exposed, I discovered the burden I was carrying was a burden to be shared. With a spiritual director God and I have a relationship I never thought possible. Spiritual direction provides a safe place to be genuine. As I expressed my hurts and insecurities those feelings diminished and the space for His love grew. I know a depth to that love I had not known before. Only by admitting my weaknesses before God could I be free, for hiding only enslaved me. In this noisy world I am learning to hear the whisper of His voice. I have the freedom to express my grief and anger and in my honesty find more of His love. Fully exposed I am experiencing His acceptance of who I am as well as who I will become.
Robin, age 60, Dallas
One of the highlights of our retreat was an experience of small group spiritual direction. We were led in a very special and nurturing time. Each one of us shared what we were sensing God teaching us through our time at the retreat, followed by a powerful ministry time. Every one of us experienced the love and encouragement of Christ as after a time of silence we prayerfully responded to one another’s sharing. It was truly a holy moment and rich experience for us.
Mike, Senior Pastor, Age 53, Austin, Minnesota
I think to truly know another and to be truly known is one of the deepest of human desires. In the safety of my spiritual direction group, I sense the Holy Spirit strip away the blinders that prevent me from seeing His pursuit of me. Through the grace-filled insights and support of this community, I find the courage to open the deeper parts of my heart to Him, and to join Him in His work there. I experience the privilege of participating as others of His children further open their hearts to Him. Together, we edge closer to the joy of truly knowing another, and to the beauty of being truly known. There is a mystery in this place as Jesus' love satisfies human desire only to make human desire grow deeper still.
Kelsey, age 26, Dallas-Fort Worth