Jesus’ practice of intimate communion with the Father was the life source of his ministry. He said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). Later in the metaphor of the Vine and the Branches, he says to us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
In the demands of ministry, my own experience and that of many other ministers, it is our communion with Christ that often suffers. As we strive and scramble to meet the ministry needs of others and of the church, who is there to pay attention to ours. An excellent life-giving resource for us is the ministry of spiritual direction.
What is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual direction has been part of the Christian tradition for centuries. Also known as spiritual friendship or spiritual companioning, spiritual direction is a ministry of one person accompanying another along his or her spiritual journey. The Holy Spirit is the true Director.
Spiritual direction is the opportunity to reflect on your relationship with God while another is prayerfully in the presence of God on your behalf. The spiritual director assists you along the way by asking reflective questions, pointing out God’s movements in your life, encouraging new directions, perhaps suggesting resources and spiritual exercises that can nurture your intimacy with God, or just prayerfully listening to your spiritual story.
What Happens in a Spiritual Direction Session?
Sessions are normally for one hour each month, perhaps more at first as the spiritual director gets on board with your spiritual story.
There are parts of anyone’s life where God’s presence is more or less clear. A spiritual director is gifted and skilled at listening with you for those “God moments and movements” present in any life experience so that you might recognize and cultivate it for a deeper relationship with God.
Spiritual direction sessions occur in the context of prayer. There is an implicit understanding that God is present in the prayerful engagement between you and the spiritual director. Your conversations with the spiritual director; therefore, are kept strictly confidential.
Group Spiritual Direction
Another option for ministers is group spiritual direction. You can gather colleagues in your area under the facilitation of a spiritual director. In group spiritual direction, all the participants become spiritual directors to one another. A group session is conducted in a manner that honors God’s presence in the meeting and is structured in a format where God’s wisdom is sought before there is any response to others in the group. It also has the advantage where there is not only the shared experience, but also a shared fee, making it much more possible for most ministers. Confidentiality and trust among members in the group is what makes it happen.
For a more complete description of the ministry of spiritual direction, click on the following link: http://www.transformyourministry.com/spiritual-direction/.
Rev. Larry Glover-Wetherington is a partner with Barnabas Partnership and also has a spiritual direction and coaching ministry under Transform Your Ministry. Larry has a certificate of completion of the two-year spiritual direction program from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Guidance.