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Spiritual Direction?

sunshine glareBy Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of theirLeading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page.

The first time I heard the term spiritual director was when I was taking Shalem’s Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats. It’s an 18-month long amazing program that calls you to dig deep within your spirit and live your gifts. Thus, one of the requirements is to have a spiritual director. In my life as a Lutheran, Presbyterian, Quaker I had never run across this concept.

So I asked, what is spiritual direction and what does a spiritual director do? I have heard lots of explanations, many times including mostly what it is not: therapy, counseling, a program, directive, etc.

Have you ever had it happen to you where you have something explained to you by several people in several ways and it still just doesn’t gel? My understanding of spiritual direction came from living it and maybe that’s appropriate. This person is more of a companion, a witness or a spiritual guardrail. As you talk about what is going on in your life, he or she asks you, “Where is God in this? What is your prayer in this? How are you and God?” These guiding questions become your beacon, leading you to the Truth within you.

Spiritual directors do not direct you, they are listening to you so prayerfully that they hear what you sometimes cannot and guide you back to you, weaving God further into the intricacies (both struggles and joys) of your life. It is different from a dear friend with whom you share the depths of your spiritual life. There is something about the fact that they don’t know your daily doings that allows them to be more focused on where God is in your life. He or she is an objective third party and I have so very often been grateful for the contemplative guidance I’ve received.

What has been your experience?

6 responses to “Spiritual Direction?”

  1. I love that phrase “spiritual guardrail”… It captures the indescribable very well.

  2. miran541 says:

    I have participated in spiritual direction for several years — it is a blessing — my director gently encourages my sense of spirituality and occasionally pushes me, kicking and screaming into the arms of the God I know and love

  3. I am a practicing spiritual director and thank you for this post, which captures the work — and its joy — so well.

  4. Robin Dorko says:

    One of the best explanations I’ve seen. Thank you!

  5. In the coaching community we talk of transition coaches, life coaches, leadership coaches, etc. as guides who ask the right questions at the right times to help one look deeper into and understand goals and the actions that move you toward attaining those goals. Your description here makes me think of spiritual coaching.

  6. Very good description. Clarifies some thoughts I had but hadn’t put into words. Thanks, Steph.

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