Just what IS “spiritual direction”?

Perhaps you’ve heard the term mentioned in small group or someone mentioned meeting their spiritual director in passing, but just what IS “spiritual direction”? In some company it is whispered with caution, with others it’s with an assumed air of “you know what I’m talking about,” but most people’s first few encounters with the term leave them puzzled. Let me clear the air!

It is a spiritual practice that tends the life of your soul: that deep, essential “you” made in the image of God for your relationship with God and others.

The tending is a ministry of presence and listening to you and the Holy Spirit. It is quite different from the typical spiritual practices incorporated in churches where study, certain types of prayer and worship are the core. These are important, but there’s more.

Bible studies, small groups, prayer meetings, worship services, and friendships are all part of the web of connection that sustains our souls, but often we find ourselves in need of a companion who can hear beyond the expected answers, linger with the hinted-at hopes, tend to the “maybes” and “not yets” in grace. In small groups, meetings and services you are likely to get lots of advice, encouragement, and personal stories to inspire your action. Once in a while someone listens to you tumble out the jumble inside, who says little or nothing at all, but you sense you are the only person they are paying attention to, and somehow your life regains a bit of hope, or you realize something you hadn’t before, or your faith steadies. The latter is an experience similar to spiritual direction.

Deep, attentive listening is a gift of the Lord that echoes the voice of God within us so that we can hear him in our lives. The gift is always wrapped in presence. The director offers herself to receive you, in all your mess and complexity, demonstrating in a tangible way the posture God has toward us. As we keep company like this, we become aware of God in the moment and in us.

Really, the Holy Spirit is the director. The spiritual director companions you, listening with you to the Holy Spirit. It is different from Bible studies or discipling in that we are not studying the word of God for information to model ourselves upon, although we rest on the relationship that the word of God and our disciplers have built in us with God. Instead, we are noticing interactions with God (or the lack thereof) in our present lives of relationships, circumstances, and personhood. There is no program to follow, although the director does offer practices that may help your relationship with God. We tend to the unique transforming work of Jesus in you to the world beyond you. It is a place to tend the soul of your life which lives with Christ.

Over the next weeks I will be writing more on spiritual direction to help you become more familiar with this practice that is gaining interest. Let me know what your questions are or which ones below resonate for you! Comment below or send me an email. Here are some of the questions I plan on addressing:

  • What’s the outcome of spiritual direction?
  • What do you mean spiritual direction is “a practice”? What’s the format?
  • Why would spiritual direction be good for me?
  • Is spiritual direction Christian?
  • How is spiritual direction related to discipling?

And, if you are ready now to find a spiritual director, I am accepting directees. You can respond to this email or check out my website, https://kimberleymulder.com.

May you know the presence of the Lord today,

Kimberley

2 thoughts on “Just what IS “spiritual direction”?”

    1. That’s so lovely you two are in beautiful Petoskey together! I am so enjoying my journey into the heart of God via spiritual direction and other ways. Love to you both!

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