This summer will mark five years since this blog began. The decision to launch this site, and nearly everything good in these very pivotal five years of my life since then, was directly influenced by one specific spiritual practice which began a couple of weeks before that first blog post. That practice, which I had needed desperately without knowing it for some time, is called spiritual direction.
Many of us have never heard of the practice, or at least aren’t very familiar with the way in which it has been practiced for centuries, so I'll explain briefly. In spiritual direction, I meet regularly with another person who is there to help direct me to the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I really like this description from Gordon T. Smith:
A spiritual director offers spiritual guidance and companionship to help us make sense of our faith journey, interpret with us the significant markers on the road, and encourage us, particularly through the more difficult transitions and valleys of our pilgrimage. Most of all, a spiritual director helps us make sense of the witness of the Spirit—assisting us to respond well to the question, How is God present to me and how is God, through the ministry of the Spirit, at work in my life?
Even if we have been Christians and maturing in our faith for many years, we still need the encouragement and guidance that might come through spiritual direction. Only pride would lead us to think we could go it alone. Genuine humility is evident in our realization that we need a companion, a fellow pilgrim and Christian, who can help us discern and foster an attentiveness to God’s presence in our lives. This is the gift of spiritual direction.*
My spiritual director has gotten to know me well over time. They are farther along into the journey of this kind of life with God that I deeply want to live and are therefore able to offer me guidance and wisdom from their own experience and study. The primary ways they do this are by listening to my own reflections on what God might be up to in my life, and then asking good questions or offering gentle suggestions.
The practice of spiritual direction has been around a long time, but we may often misperceive it today. My spiritual director never directs me in the sense of telling me what to do–spiritually or otherwise, never claiming to know what God’s will is for me. Rather they help point me toward ways in which God may be working in my life.
Being in spiritual direction has been so invaluable to me over the past five years that I am about halfway through a pretty intense training program, studying in a School of Spiritual Direction in order to be able to offer this ministry to others. (There isn’t much happening on the blog this year, because much of my "non-job" time and attention is going toward this training.) I have now come to the point in that training where I will start gaining some experience helping others along these lines more formally than anything I’ve done in the past.
If the above description of spiritual direction resonates with you and you are at a point where you would like to have another person help direct you to God's work in your life, here are a few options:
- Visiting with me: Since I’m just gaining experience in this, I can humbly assure you that it wouldn’t be the same experience as meeting with a very experienced director. At the same time, I can also assure you that I’m in a high quality training program and will do my best to be helpful. If you would like to have a conversation or email exchange to explore the possibility before committing to anything, please feel free to contact me. (I'm hoping one or two of you who read this may choose this option and get in touch with me.)
- Visit with an experienced director: My training program has a spiritual direction referral network, where they’ll work to match you up with an experienced director who may be a good fit for you.
- Visit with a director in your area: Either of the above options may be via distance (either by phone or FaceTime/Skype/etc.), but you may have a strong preference for a face-to-face spiritual director. If so, a worldwide directory of spiritual directors is listed on the site of Spiritual Directors International.
If you’re just curious to find out more, check out the Frequently Asked Questions on this page.
*Gordon T. Smith, Spiritual Direction: A Guide to Giving and Receiving Direction (Kindle Locations 54-60). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.