Spiritual direction is a spiritual formation practice that you deeper in your transformation with God.
As a trained spiritual director, many people have asked me what spiritual direction is, and why it might be a good fit for them.
Previously, I shared Why I Got a Spiritual Director. Now I’ll offer you an in-depth look at what spiritual direction is, what a spiritual director does, and how to determine if spiritual direction could benefit your spiritual growth.
If you want to know more about spiritual direction, read on.
What is spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is guidance and companionship given by another person that allows you to grow in your spiritual journey and relationship with God.
It creates a safe place for you to explore your relationship with God, become more aware of God’s presence and work in your life, and make sense of your faith journey.
The purpose of spiritual direction is to grow in intimacy with God, become a more spiritually formed person, and live a meaningful life. In essence, its primary purpose is to guide you into becoming more fully who you are meant to be in relationship with God.
What does a spiritual director do?
No one needs to journey alone. A spiritual director is a trained listener who will accompany you as you share about your spiritual journey. A spiritual director’s primary intent is to guide you into encounters with God, and to help you pay attention to God’s activity in your life.
A spiritual director serves as a guide, support, and encourager. Through prayer, conversation, listening, asking questions, and letting the Spirit give direction, the spiritual director will help you interpret your experiences and respond to God's presence and voice. He or she will listen and create a safe place to explore your relationship with God and unearth your deepest desires. There is no set agenda, and you are free to consider whatever aspect of your spiritual journey you wish.
Who is spiritual direction meant for?
Spiritual direction is available for anyone who is seeking to encounter God and go deeper in their spiritual journey. In spiritual direction, you will have a safe and open environment to explore your relationship with God.
How could spiritual direction benefit you?
Whether you seek a spiritual director during a specific season of life, or engage with one as a part of your regular spiritual practices, spiritual direction is beneficial in many ways. Oftentimes, people will build a long term relationship with their spiritual director, meeting with them monthly.
Here are a few reasons you may want to meet with a spiritual director:
How is spiritual direction different from counseling or therapy?
Spiritual direction is not therapy or counseling. Spiritual direction differs from counseling ministries primarily in its focus: the intention of spiritual direction is not to help solve a problem, but rather to look for God's activity within any problems and within the rest of your life experiences. This perspective invites you into deeper relationship with God in the midst of whatever you are experiencing.
How does spiritual direction differ from other spiritual relationships?
Spiritual direction is also not mentoring or discipling in that these relationships usually focus more on moral, educational and vocational guidance in a particular faith tradition. Although there will be dimensions of spiritual direction in these relationships, a true spiritual director is someone who can listen and provide spiritual guidance beyond any personal need to defend or uphold any particular tradition or religious institution. It is also not the same thing as spiritual friendship in that spiritual friendship is usually a peer relationship that includes some level of mutuality. Spiritual direction, on the other hand, is "one-way" in that the director is there solely to attend to the directee and does not look to that relationship in order to have any of their personal needs met.
What people say about their spiritual direction experience
Here are some ways people describe their experience in spiritual direction:
“I was at some major personal cross-roads in my life, and spiritual direction helped me hear from God in the midst of making those decisions. It helped me to listen to my own desires, as well as God's whispers of love and blessing. God gave me a bigger view of what life with him can be like, and cultivated more grace in me for myself and for others. I experienced more of God's love and acceptance."
"Meeting with a spiritual director gave me a renewed sense of God's presence in my life. Whatever seemed murky or frustrating was replaced with a total sense of peace. During one spiritual direction session, my spiritual director and I prayed together. In that prayer time, I was overcome with relief, and knew that God was releasing me from having to do and be anything beyond what I could manage."
“My spiritual director helped me through a season of waiting on God. Through spiritual direction, I learned how to ground my identity in God, connect with him, and make my spirituality my own. I am so much more secure in who I am, and more aware of God's voice speaking to me."
How to find a spiritual director
There are several ways to find a spiritual director. Here are a few places to start your search:
What to look for in a spiritual director
Every spiritual director has his or her own unique experience and style. It is up to you to choose a spiritual director who has the training, formation and experience that suits your needs. You may want to set up an initial appointment with a potential spiritual director to explore whether it is a good fit. It will help to ask questions about the spiritual director’s experience, expectations of the spiritual director and directee relationship and roles, whether there is a fee, and any other expectations.
An effective spiritual director is someone who is:
What to expect in a session with a spiritual director
Ready to go deeper in your spiritual journey?
Now that you know more about spiritual direction, consider that it might be a great next step for you in your own spiritual journey. If you want to learn more about how I can help you as a spiritual director, check out my services.
You may also like my post Why I Got a Spiritual Director.
For further reading: Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction by David G. Benner
Do you have experiences with spiritual direction? Or questions for me about spiritual direction that I didn’t cover? Please share in the comments.
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5/10/2016 08:10:23 am
I can see how this is very beneficial, so many times people are left on their own with no guidance. This usually means no growth or even going back to the way their lives were before. Very informative, Thanks!
5/10/2016 06:44:57 pm
I read your post through and by the end I had the willies. This just feels wrong. I've come out of church who used spiritual directors and saw how people were misdirected. I understand that some folks don't have people to turn to... but shouldn't they then seek out a pastor? One who is well versed in the things of the Lord rather than a guide/facilatator/listener who is open to all faiths?
Hi Annette. Thank you for your questions. I am sorry to hear that you had a bad experience in your church, and do agree that any type of spiritual authority can be abused.
6/3/2020 03:35:13 am
Hi Larissa. I have recently met up with an old friend. We have been chatting for a some time now and i do believe that I have a spiritual connection him. He has had a few encounters with God and I believe he has a special anointing over his life. I am someone that has been broken and hurt many times before and the Lord has shown him that he needs to pray for me. It is through this that we connected. And somehow we just found ourselves in love. :) I do believe that God has brought us together for a reason. We have not started seeing each other yet as we believe in waiting on the Lord. I would like to know what you think of this. I also have dreams which I believe God is speaking to me through them. And it is always regarding this man. And also about new beginnings.
Thanks for helping me understand that the session can last for about an hour to a month. I will make sure that I will allot enough time once I book counseling like this. It's to help me wiath he trauma I have had for two years now which I never had the courage to face until now.
3/17/2022 10:07:26 pm
Thank you for explaining that an effective spiritual leader is one who is talented and skilled in understanding and listening to the Spirit. My friend wants to try cognitive behavioral therapy to improve her perspective in life. I think that's possible through the help of a reliable spiritual leader.
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Aloha! I'm Larissa. I help others go deeper in the faith journey with God.
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