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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Want You To Grow Spiritually 3: Spiritual Direction

UPDATE: I first published this back in September 2008; however, I saw some good other CT articles to add to it:

What Is a Spiritual Director? | Christianity Today
What Is Spiritual Direction? | Christianity Today
Spiritual Formation Agenda | Christianity Today

Spiritual Direction is different. It's not pastoral counseling. It's not therapy, counseling, psychoanalysis or psychotherapy. It's not really advice giving or empathetic listening. The word "direction" is almost too strong.

The work of a Spiritual Director exists more through being than doing. They help us see where God is already at work in our lives. They help us to listen attentively to God. Spiritual Direction could be described as helping to facilitate one's intimacy with God. North Park Theological Seminary says at their web site for the Center for Spiritual Direction, "Spiritual direction is a ministry of listening, discernment, and prayer in a confidential setting of encouragement and compassion."

Some times Spiritual Directors help us with our spiritual disciplines such as examen, confession, lectio divina, establishing and maintaining a Rule of Life. They journey with us to discover which disciplines God is leading us into and encourage us in our faithful obedience to Him through the disciplines.

There are numerous places to find a spiritual director. Ask your local Roman Catholic or Anglican priest. A Google search will provide a variety of resources. Contact North Park's Center for Spiritual Direction. Find a Benedictine or Jesuit community near you. They will most certainly be able to help you.

If you are dealing with a chronic deep seated sadness or anxiety, you will more likely need a counselor. However, if you are having trouble experiencing God, feeling intimate with Him or feel lost on your spiritual journey, a Spiritual Director will be of great help.

A note to my conservative evangelical friends: Don't get hung up with the fact that most (certainly not all) Directors are from the Roman Catholic tradition. You will likely find that they know Jesus as Savior and Lord intimately and experience Him slightly differently than you. You may not agree with every theological precept of their thinking, but their passion to serve and know Jesus is the same as yours.

This is part 3 in a 20 part series on spiritual growth. If you feel like you are not growing deeper in your faith or relationship to God, if you are not loving and serving others more, if you have a sense of 'stuckness' in your spiritual journey, and you really want to grow ——— the answer might not be to try harder. All too often I have heard the same solutions offered over and over — 'All you have to do is have daily devotions, pray more, read more of the Bible, be in worship every week and get more involved in the church.' In other words try harder.

Sometimes that doesn't work and I'm going to offer some suggestions that might help you move forward.

Previous Installments:
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 1: Give Up Daily Devotions
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 2: See A Counselor

Comments on "I Want You To Grow Spiritually 3: Spiritual Direction"


Anonymous RachelV said ... (12:44 PM, February 11, 2009) : 

In college I participated in spiritual direction with a group of other women.....it was not as great as I was expecting, but it was very interesting to learn about and practice!


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