Many, many years ago a friend shared that receiving spiritual direction had helped her grow in her relationship with God. This was a new thought for me. I explored that spiritual practice. Since that time I’ve found it invaluable as part of my spiritual journey.
Spiritual direction is a spiritual practice in which an individual or group share how they are living their lives in order to grow in their relationship with God, the Divine and/or deepen their spiritual life.
Spiritual director is a title for a spiritual guide/companion or mentor. The practice of spiritual direction has been a practice for thousands of years though it wasn’t given that title. In Hebrew Scriptures we find many examples such as Samuel being guided by Eli (I Samuel 3:1-18)or Joseph who interpreted dreams (Genesis 40:1-41:37).
In the early days of the church people would go to the desert to consult with the desert mothers and fathers for spiritual guidance. These desert mothers and fathers had gone into the desert to deepen their own relationship with God and thus were known as ones who could also guide others.
Even today, people who want to deepen their spirituality or focus more intentionally on their relationship with God, look for a guide or mentor.
Receiving spiritual direction is an opportunity to share one’s spiritual hopes, struggles, joys and concerns. It helps one be accountable in growing spiritually and deepening one’s relationship with the Divine. In spiritual direction the directee shares with the director what has been important in their spiritual life since the last meeting. They may share their prayer life, dreams, life experiences and where they are aware of the Divinity in their life.
A spiritual director listens to what is said and reflects back. The Spiritual director is also aware of God’s spirit being the real director. Thus the spiritual director does not usually give directions but through asking questions helps the individual find the directions that are already in one’s heart.
I find that talking with a spiritual director on a regular basis helps me stay focused on how God is working in my life and helping me in ministry. It helps me be aware of when I think that all I do depends on me, rather than on God. It helps me remember and be thankful for the gifts God gives me.
Now, not only is spiritual direction a very regular spiritual practice for me, I’ve also become a spiritual director for others who want to use this spiritual practice to deepen their spiritual life. I encourage all who are interested to engage in this spiritual practice of meeting regularly with a spiritual director.