WHAT IS SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?
Spiritual direction in its simplest form is when one member of the body of Christ commits to being attentive to God with and for another, acting as support, companion and guide along the spiritual journey. The goal of spiritual direction is to see where God is already at work in a person’s life, to notice where a connection with God grows or suffers and to assist in maintaining conscious contact with God. In this sense, it happens informally in conversations, lunches, and walks; in Bible studies, prayer and fellowship groups, and other aspects of everyday life as we support each other in our spiritual journeys.
In older traditions such as the Roman Catholic tradition, the term has been used to describe the more formal pastoral ministry of confessor and guide in the spiritual life. In recent years, Protestant and evangelical traditions have discovered this ancient spiritual ministry and are appropriating it into their ministries. Spiritual direction in all its forms involves the pastoral and interpersonal work of spiritual guidance and companionship.
One of the reasons this ancient ministry has gained traction in our time is that it is a way of slowing down to hear the “still, small voice of God” and experience the abundance goodness of God in personal ways. Eugene Peterson says it well:
The culture conditions us to approach people and situations as journalists: see the big, exploit the crisis, edit and abridge the commonplace, interview the glamorous.
But the Scriptures and our best pastoral traditions train us in a different approach: notice the small, persevere in the commonplace, appreciate the obscure. Spiritual direction is that aspect of pastoral ministry in which we give attention to these details.
- Whether planned or unplanned, three convictions underpin these meetings: God is always doing something: an active grace is shaping this life into mature salvation.
- Responding to God is not sheer guesswork: The Christian community has acquired wisdom through the centuries that provides guidance
- Each soul is unique: no wisdom can simply be applied without discerning the particulars of this life, this situation.
Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity
Whether formal or informal, spiritual direction is about living into our future in Christ, and assists us in developing a growing awareness of God’s particular intention for us, what might not yet exist in our lives but should. It involves listening to God, through His word and in solitude and silence through prayer. It also involves listening to our lives, becoming more familiar with our own stories; often we find clues to our particular passions and burdens bound up in our unique stories of creation, fall, and redemption. Finally, it takes place in a community; we need others’ imaginative insight into our journey. Because spiritual direction takes place in the context of community, Father Michael wants to be intentional in fostering and providing time and space for these kinds of relationships to be integral to the life of our church.
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION AT ST. JOHN'S
Father Michael is always available to you for spiritual direction. It is not an additional ministry St. John’s offers; it is a part of a pastor's calling and job. He is available to help you grow spiritually:
- by connecting you to resources, books, or programs within or beyond our church
- to help you discover and develop spiritual and focal practices for your relationship with God
- to pray and talk with you to help you understand how God may be at work in your life circumstances
- to help you discover your spiritual gifts and how God can use you in our fellowship
In addition, there are an increasing number of trained spiritual directors in our community who offer specialized and more intensive opportunities for spiritual growth. They often charge a fee for participation, much like Christian counselors. Many Christian counselors also have