What is Spiritual Direction and How to Find a Spiritual Director
What is spiritual direction and what is a spiritual director? I had never heard these terms before until a few years ago. My friend Karen and I share the same philosophy that if we hear about something multiple times in a week, whether it’s a recommended book, movie or advice, that we need to pay attention. Well, this spiritual direction and spiritual director topic popped up everywhere!
One of my friends was retiring. He held an executive position within the Presbyterian Church. At a reception I asked him what he would be doing once he retired and he told me that he wanted to spend more time as a spiritual director. I asked him what that meant and he explained what spiritual direction was, but the room was noisy and we were forced to cut the conversation short to get to choir practice. I didn’t quite grasp the meaning and quite frankly, forgot about it.
That weekend Robert and I took a trip to Wisconsin to visit friends of ours. I showed them my website and what I was doing and Dave said, “You need a spiritual director.” He had one and explained to me that pastors within the Presbyterian Church are required to have a spiritual director. He explained how spiritual directors are there to be a companion with you on your spiritual journey. They attend to you with the presence and call of God in your life. A spiritual director is not a therapist, but rather a listener who can be helpful as you open yourself up more fully to the action of God’s Spirit. In fact, Dave and his wife Elaine were planning to become spiritual directors.
When we returned home we attended a dinner at our church. During the conversation at our table our pastor was talking about what his spiritual director had recommended. His wife Jani was sitting at the table with us and written on her hand were the words – Letting Go. I asked her why she had those words on her hand, and she replied that her spiritual director had expressed that she needed to let go.
That night I took out one of the books that my friend Dave loaned me from our trip. The author wrote how her whole life changed after she began to see a spiritual director. I burst out laughing, which wasn’t good because I was reading in bed and Robert was asleep. I said, “Okay God, I get it already! I’ll get a spiritual director!”
I did get a spiritual director and I have been seeing one for almost two years. Has it changed my life? Well, yes! The process works by going once a month and meeting with your spiritual director to talk about anything regarding your spiritual journey. Sometimes I come with issues that I am trying to deal with and sometimes I share how God has been working in my life. My spiritual director will help me to interpret my thoughts, questions and struggles. It’s been a wonderful experience to have a spiritual companion that is an observer and a source of support.
If you are seeking a closer walk with God, need discernment, having a crisis in faith, or experiencing a yearning that you can’t understand, spiritual direction could be right for you.
What to Expect from Spiritual Direction
You will most likely go to an office or church facility. The amount of time is usually 50 minutes. You’ll start your spiritual direction getting centered through silence and prayer. Then you will share what is on your heart that day. Sometimes it’s helpful to come with a list of items or an item to cover. As your relationship grows over time, your spiritual director may bring in resources such as prayers, articles, books that relate to items you’ve discussed. It truly is a companionship. You will find more peace, guidance and clarity on your spiritual journey. But you have a role too. That includes spending time in personal prayer, reflecting and meeting once a month.
Is there a cost to Spiritual Direction?
The cost of spiritual direction is in the form of a donation which is usually between $35-$55 per session. Most places are flexible depending on the need of the person and fees can be reduced if necessary.
How do you find a Spiritual Director?
You can find a spiritual director through a website called Spiritual Directors International. http://sdiworld.org. You can also ask your pastor if they know of any spiritual directors. Also, if you live in a rural area and have access through the Internet, some spiritual directors will even do one on one direction through Skype.
What to look for in a Spiritual Director
It’s important that you can relate to your spiritual director. There are some places with multiple spiritual directors. You can meet with a person and see if you feel comfortable with them. If not, they will have you meet with someone else. The goal of spiritual direction is to find someone that will be a companion with you on your spiritual journey. Also look for a director who is involved with supervision. That means that they go to a supervisory group of their peers for their own spiritual direction and to be accountable.
As I mentioned, I have been seeing a spiritual director for almost two years. My director has helped me to understand how God sees me and has helped me to interpret thoughts, dreams and yearnings. I’ve gained a greater sense of peace and purpose. My monthly sessions have helped me to grow and to keep focused on the spiritual path that I have chosen. I’m so glad that spiritual direction actually found me!