Tag Archives: spiritual

A Class on Spiritual Disciplines

I had my annual check-up last month and my weight is going up.  I know the job change I have had has led to my eating differently.  I had been doing very well but now I am slipping.  But even the knowledge that I have well before, and knowing exactly how I did it, it is hard to return to a better way of eating.

Just because someone has the knowledge does not mean it will automatically turn into action.  So how do people become “transformed into Christ-likeness”?  Part of the answer lies with Spiritual Disciplines/Practices, which are tools that put a person before God in ways that allow Christ to change them.

Here are some of them: Silence and Solitude help us to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us.  Service calls us to put love into action.  Submission reminds us it is about God, not us.   Fasting challenges us to be honest about our behavior when we are stressed and to allow God to root out the source. Simplicity challenges us to discover “where our heart lies” and let God move it more towards God.  Meditation allows our deepest thoughts to come forward so God can be part of dealing with them.  Most of these are found in Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline.  But whatever resource is used the transformation is enabled when we practice disciplines/actions that put us before God so God can work with us.

These thoughts above are from David Fox, our partner based out of Roanoke, Virginia. He has served in various roles either as pastor, associate pastor or minister of education in Virginia churches.

Jesus as a Model for Ministry – Spiritual Direction

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.

Energy and the Spiritual Ecosystem

I’m thinking this week about the issue of energy in a spiritual ecosystem.  Every ecosystem is dependent on energy. In nature the ultimate source is the Sun. That energy is converted by plants into food which some animals consume directly and others consume by consuming plant-eating plant animals. Animals die and decay; energy returns to the plants as soil. It’s the whole circle of life thing.

But what about energy in a congregation? (There will be no consuming of other members of your congregation in this metaphor!) Our ultimate source of energy is the Holy Spirit, but how does that energy get shared in the community of faith?

I think of at least three ways:

  • Worship: As we gather to sing, pray, listen to Scripture, and proclaim our stories and The Story together, there can be palpable energy in the room. The Spirit prompts us to see our lives, our neighbors (also members of the ecosystem) and ministry in a different way and to respond in faith.
  • Ministry: Although ministry takes energy, it also produces energy. When we are engaged in effective ministry we are energized by seeing God at work in others and ourselves.
  • People: Sometimes it only takes one person “on fire” to set the whole community ablaze with energy. We have to discern between “flash in the pan” excitement and the indwelling of the Spirit, without quenching the Spirit in others.

So what are the specific sources of energy in your congregation, in worship, ministry and people? Is there room in worship for the Spirit to move and people to respond? Are opportunities for effective ministry provided or promoted? Are people with passion being allowed to explore possibilities? Is energy being converted to good spiritual food? What needs to die in order to nurture something new? Exploring these questions can energize your ministry!

If you want to continue the conversation, contact Dr. Paul Raybon, paul@barnabaspartnership.com or info@barnabaspartnership.com