Spiritual direction is a practice which has been part of the Christian faith for centuries, although it is not quite as well-known in this “introspective individualistic age” we are currently living in, where people feel they do not need anyone to journey with them (1).
Anybody wanting to develop a deeper relationship with God can benefit from spiritual direction. However, it is particularly valuable for Christian leaders or those who have been believers for some time, because the focus is reflecting on one’s journey of faith.
If you are in ministry or leadership, you may feel a sense of loneliness and/or isolation at times. Spiritual direction can help to combat this, as it is not only an opportunity for you to reflect on your life, faith, and God, but also to confidentially partner with the spiritual director around issues you may be struggling with. It can also provide you with accountability for what is happening in your spiritual life (2).
What is Spiritual Direction?
During spiritual direction, you will meet with another Christian for the sole purpose of examining your own relationship with God; it is a form of soul care.
These meetings can be scheduled weekly, fortnightly or monthly. It is said that C.S. Lewis met his spiritual director once a week for a period of 11 years, with their relationship only ending when the spiritual director passed away.
Ideally your spiritual director will create a safe space where you can honestly reflect on what God is doing in your life, and listen to what He is saying. It should be an unhurried time, and may include conversation, silence, readings and prayer; there is no set program or procedure (2).
One of the reasons people come to spiritual direction is to get help to improve their listening skills; as it is in listening that we find out what God is doing in our lives.
It is interesting to note that in spiritual direction there is a move away from just talking about God, to reflecting on one’s experience with God. As a result of spiritual direction, Christians experience an increased awareness of God and spiritual growth. Many say this includes greater:
- freedom in their relationship with God;
- enjoyment of God;
- knowledge of God;
- clarity of what God is doing;
- and peace in their lives (2).
The Spiritual Director
The spiritual director is not in the meeting as an advisor, but more as a facilitator, helping you to focus on what God is busy doing in your life. They may also be known as spiritual guides, spiritual advisors, or spiritual companions (3); but they are not a spiritual authority figure in your life (2).
In order to be effective and available to others in ministry, it is important to be centred in your own faith. The spiritual director should be someone you can trust, and turn to when you feel life is falling apart, or when you are in need of clear understanding of God’s presence and work in your life (3).
The Goal of Spiritual Direction
The goal of spiritual direction is to help you discover how God is working in your life, and to facilitate your creative and loving response to God.
It is important to note that spiritual direction is not discipleship, counselling, or preaching.
Spiritual direction is a focused ministry of support, providing nurture and care, where one believer walks alongside another on their faith journey. Built around listening, prayer and conversation, spiritual direction can be a refreshing, positive experience.
Author: Corey Human, B Th, M Counselling. Corey Human has nearly 20 years’ experience in providing counselling to adolescents, adults, couples, parents and families in both English and Afrikaans. In relationship counselling and education, his aim is to empower each couple with the tools to help themselves when they get to points of conflict in their relationship.
To make an appointment with Counselling Professional, Corey Human, you can try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
- Culling,EA 2002. What is Spiritual Direction. https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/anvil/19-3_177.pdf
- Fraser, D N.D. Spiritual Direction; A Brief Introduction. https://www.tyndale.ca/sites/default/files/2018-02/Tyndale-Association-of-Spiritual-Directors-Introduction-to-Spiritual-Direction.pdf
- Gaines JS ND. A Basic Guide to Spiritual Direction. https://psr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Student-Life-OCL-A-Guide-to-Spiritual-Direction.pdf