Have you ever wished for a spiritual companion? Someone to come alongside and listen to your questions about God and support you as you explore your relationship with Him? Christian spiritual direction is just that – meeting confidentially one-on-one with someone who is a little further along in their journey with God. This person is biblically grounded and has been trained to accompany individuals as they share about their spiritual journey, helping them notice God’s presence and activity along the way, as well as offering personal reactions and responses.
In a formal, non-directive prayerful method, spiritual directors invite directees to discover a relationship with God through Christ and grow deeper in prayer and in living their calling as a follower of Christ. Spiritual Direction is actually a spiritual practice that has a long history in Christianity.
My interest in spiritual direction grew out of my own personal “crisis of faith” experiences. While I grew up in a Christian home, accepted Christ’s offer of salvation at a young age, attended church, Christian high school and Bible College, and was deeply involved in lay ministry within the church as a married woman and mother of two young daughters, I found myself at times, confused about what God was allowing in my life, angry with God, grieving a loss, and at times burned out on my church busyness. I traveled through the majority of these experiences on my own, without a spiritual director to assist me. My turning points came as God brought to mind certain scripture, and I found myself turning to God’s Word to find answers, eventually, finding God Himself. I realized that I was trying to live the Christian life in my own strength, instead of submitting my life to Christ and letting His life flow through me. I must confess this was a very slow process, as I often let myself get too busy to spend regular time with God. I often wonder if I could have traveled through these experiences quicker with a spiritual director.
God has been and continues to be re-forming my desires to long for what He longs for, and in doing that, He has led me to begin to see a vision of the church as a “hospital for souls”. What if, in the church, we could learn to care for the souls of others? What if, in our small groups, we learn to compassionately listen to others in the presence of the Holy Spirit, prayerfully discerning what God would desire for that person, stirring up a passion for God, as well as “stirring each other to love and good deeds.” What could happen?
I am currently meeting once a month for individual spiritual direction, and find my spiritual director’s warm, accepting, gentle presence so helpful as I explore with her what is happening in my life and in my life with God. I have experienced group spiritual direction and witnessed God help participants realize a decision they need to make, a truth about themselves, encouragement for a difficult situation, restoration of a fractured marriage relationship.
God has impressed on me the fact that none of us are “experts” when it comes to the spiritual journey! We may have heard that we need to have a “relationship with Jesus” but we often don’t really know how to do that. We may have walked with God for years when something devastating happens in our lives, and we wonder where God is. We may lose the feeling of God’s presence after having felt close to Him, and wonder what happened. Wherever we are in our journey with God, God invites us to go deeper. A spiritual director can be that spiritual companion who journeys with us during these difficult and confusing times.
God ministers to us at the point of our need as we spend time with Him and calls us to join Him in His ministry of revealing who He is to others. For me, that calling has been encouraging others through spiritual direction. It gives me great joy to journey with others in anticipation as together we watch how God moves us forward in our spiritual journey with Him.