Why Spiritual Direction?
This is not the latest fad in Christianity, but the discovery of an age-old tradition among believers.
To be a Christian is to be on a journey from the pigpen of self-rule to the outstretched arms of a loving Father.
Many in the Christian world have recently reawakened to the truth that wearing the label “Christian” is not synonymous with experiencing the intimate, moment-by-moment relationship with God that we were designed to enjoy.
Sadly, modern Protestants are more likely to expect a microwave instead of a slow-cooker approach to transformation.
Spiritual formation happens through spiritual direction, which involves the help of another person - the spiritual director. It is not psychotherapy, and it is not pastoral counselling. For too long we have entrusted the care of our inner life to experts who understand their role primarily in problem-solving and therapeutic terms. Both pastoral counselling and spiritual direction share a concern for spiritual well-being and formation.
True fact: The more mature we are in our faith, the more we recognise our need for others - companions, friends, pastors and spiritual directors.
The Role of the Spiritual Director
A spiritual director offers spiritual guidance and companionship to help us make sense of our faith journey, and encourage us 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 at work in my life?
Only pride would lead us to think we could do it alone, true humility is evident when we realise that we need a companion, a fellow pilgrim, who can help us discern and foster an attentiveness to God’s presence in our lives.
The problem with the term “director” is the resistance to the idea of real authority in the life of the Christian believer. In the Western world there is a definite “dislike” or resistance to anyone telling us what to do, and so we struggle on our own, and more often than not we give up because of a lack of disciple and the absence of accountability.
Is anyone filling this role in your life? It is good to have spiritual friends to go to when we need advice, but there are times and seasons in our lives when we need to seek direction from someone who has actually walked that road before and is willing to join us on our journey for a while.
Next week we will explore the history as well as the goals of spiritual direction, so stay tuned.